Dissecting Biological and Synthetic Soft–Hard Interfaces for Tissue-Like Systems

Chemical Reviews 2022


Soft and hard materials at interfaces exhibit mismatched behaviors, such as mismatched chemical or biochemical reactivity, mechanical response, and environmental adaptability. Leveraging or mitigating these differences can yield interfacial processes difficult to achieve, or inapplicable, in pure soft or pure hard phases. Exploration of interfacial mismatches and their associated (bio)chemical, mechanical, or other physical processes may yield numerous opportunities in both fundamental studies and applications, in a manner similar to that of semiconductor heterojunctions and their contribution to solid-state physics and the semiconductor industry over the past few decades. In this review, we explore the fundamental chemical roles and principles involved in designing these interfaces, such as the (bio)chemical evolution of adaptive or buffer zones. We discuss the spectroscopic, microscopic, (bio)chemical, and computational tools required to uncover the chemical processes in these confined or hidden soft–hard interfaces. We propose a soft–hard interaction framework and use it to discuss soft–hard interfacial processes in multiple systems and across several spatiotemporal scales, focusing on tissue-like materials and devices. We end this review by proposing several new scientific and engineering approaches to leveraging the soft–hard interfacial processes involved in biointerfacing composites and exploring new applications for these composites.

Chemical Reviews