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Stupp_mrs+bulletin_2005

Stupp_mrs+bulletin_2005 - www.mrs.org/publications/bulletin...

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864 MRS BULLETIN • VOLUME 30 • NOVEMBER 2005 Introduction Science historians will identify the turn of this century as a time when most scien- tists became intrigued by the ingenuity and complexity of biology. In our time, some scientists have the ambition to un- derstand biology from the molecular to the systems level, while others hope to mimic, control, or modify biological sys- tems to develop things that are useful to society. In this same period, the field of materials and its close ally, nanoscience, occupy a center-stage position that is no longer just the traditional domain of mate- rials science, but one that has expanded to chemistry, physics, and all areas of engi- neering. This makes the field of biomate- rials one of the most exciting scientific challenges today. Arthur von Hippel, whose life is cele- brated in this issue of MRS Bulletin, was a pioneer who decades ago had the vision to advocate all of these key scientific trans- formations. The Laboratory for Insulation Research, which he founded at the Massa- chusetts Institute of Technology in 1937, planted the seeds of molecular engineer- ing of materials, a strategy that makes synthetic chemistry today an important dimension of materials science. Biology is, of course, the ultimate expression of mo- lecular engineering, and von Hippel ex- tended his vision by raising questions on how nature proceeds with molecular de- sign to create living systems. In the later stages of his career, his interests in living matter were wisely expressed through re- search on the structure and properties of water, which he saw as critical to our un- derstanding of biological structures. As a testimony of von Hippel’s vision, his last publication was titled From Atoms toward Living Systems , published in 1979. 1 Honor- ing von Hippel’s foresight, we gaze in this article at the many faces of the expanding and highly inspiring field of biomaterials . The Genesis of Biomaterials The scope of biomaterials has tradition- ally consisted of using materials in medi- cine and dentistry with the purpose of restoring the structure and/or function of tissues and organs. In fact, this use of ma- terials can be traced back to prehistoric times, with evidence of sutures dating back more than 30,000 years. 2 More than 2000 years ago, gold was used by the Greeks (described in early Greek literature by Galen of Pergamon) as wires for liga- tures, and by the Romans, Chinese, and Aztecs in dentistry. 2,3 More recently, in 1816 Philip Physick from the University of Pennsylvania used lead wire sutures, while in 1849 J. Marion Sims used, more successfully, silver wires developed by a jeweler. 2 In 1829, H.S. Levert performed a significant study describing the in vivo biocompatibility of gold, silver, lead, and platinum. 2 In 1860, relatively good success was achieved with the invention of con- tact lenses made from glass, giving form to a concept that was originally proposed by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century.
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