Editors: Antonio Tilocca and Alastair N. Cormack
Repairing and regenerating lost or damaged tissues is a key goal of modern medicine. Synthetic biomaterials used for this task are generally optimised through trial-and-error approaches, which have led to significant progress in their development in the last two decades. However, further advances towards a new generation of biomaterials with enhanced properties now require a different approach, based on a more fundamental understanding of the way in which the structure of a biomaterial controls its biological activity. Our limited knowledge of the atomic structure of most biomaterials and of their interface with the biological environment has precluded such rational approaches so far. Significant advances in experimental and simulation methods have recently led to important progress in the structural characterisation of glass and ceramics for biomedical applications. This themed issue illustrates recent developments in our knowledge of the structural features of topical biomaterials, including silicate and phosphate bioactive glasses and titania and calcium phosphate bioceramics. Given the established role of these materials in the field, this information represents a precious reference to rationalise the way in which biomaterials work and guide the development of future biomaterials.
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