The last two decades have been characterized by an extraordinary growth in the production and commercialization of nano-sized materials. Safety is a major concern when new materials are produced, and especially so for nanomaterials, since their properties are very different from the properties of bulk materials with the same chemical composition, and are difficult to predict. At the same time, nanometer size materials offer unprecedented opportunities in many fields of technology, including pharmaceutical and medical technology.
Biological membranes are the first barrier encountered by any particle entering an organism. The interaction of nanoparticles with biological membranes is therefore of paramount importance to understand the molecular basis of biological effects.
We study, mainly by means of coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, the interaction between synthetic nanoparticles (plastic nanoparticles, carbon nanoparticles) and model lipid membranes. Our goal is to identify, if any, physical mechanisms of damage of the membrane induced by the nanoparticles.