Biomimetic and bioinspired materials present an emerging field in the areas of biomedicine, bioengineering, and biological sciences. One of the current trends is the production of biofunctional materials that are able to interact with light and thereby enable applications in therapy, biosensing, and bioimaging. The aim of this special section is to present some of the current state-of-the-art research activities on the use of such materials in relation to the field of biophotonics.
Continuous advances in the field of bionanotechnology, particularly in the areas of synthesis and functionalization of colloidal inorganic nanoparticles with novel physicochemical properties, allow the development of innovative and/or enhanced approaches for medical solutions. Many of the present and future applications of bionanotechnology rely on the ability of nanoparticles to efficiently interact with electromagnetic (EM) fields and subsequently to produce a response via scattering or absorption of the interacting field. The cross-sections of nanoparticles are typically orders of magnitude larger than organic molecules, which provide the means for manipulating EM fields and, thereby, enable applications in therapy (e.g., photothermal therapy, hyperthermia, drug release, etc.), sensing (e.g., surface plasmon resonance, surface-enhanced Raman, energy transfer, etc.), and imaging (e.g., magnetic resonance, optoacoustic, photothermal, etc.). Herein, an overview of the most relevant parameters and promising applications of EM-active nanoparticles for applications in life science are discussed with a view toward tailoring the interaction of nanoparticles with EM fields.