Self-assembly for the synthesis of functional biomaterials

Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Julia H. Ortony, Samuel I. Stupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


The use of self-assembly for the construction of functional biomaterials is a highly promising and exciting area of research, with great potential for the treatment of injury or disease. By using multiple noncovalent interactions, coded into the molecular design of the constituent components, self-assembly allows for the construction of complex, adaptable, and highly tunable materials with potent biological effects. This review describes some of the seminal advances in the use of self-assembly to make novel systems for regenerative medicine and biology. Materials based on peptides, proteins, DNA, or hybrids thereof have found application in the treatment of a wide range of injuries and diseases, and this review outlines the design principles and practical applications of these systems. Most of the examples covered focus on the synthesis of hydrogels for the scaffolding or transplantation of cells, with an emphasis on the biological, mechanical, and structural properties of the resulting materials. In addition, we will discuss the distinct advantages conferred by self-assembly (compared with traditional covalent materials), and present some of the challenges and opportunities for the next generation of self-assembled biomaterials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)912-930
Number of pages19
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomaterials
  • Peptide amphiphiles
  • Peptides
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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