Application of carbon nano onions in the biomedical field: Recent advances and challenges
© The Royal Society of Chemistry. Carbon nano onions (CNOs) are carbonaceous nanostructures composed of multiple concentric shells of fullerenes. These cage-within-cage structures remain as one of the most exciting and fascinating carbon forms, along with graphene and its derivatives, due to their unique chemical and physical properties. Their exceptional biocompatibility and biosafety make them an attractive choice in a wide range of areas, including biological systems. This nanomaterial displays low toxicity, high dispersity in aqueous solutions (upon surface functionalization), and high pharmaceutical efficiency. Even though CNOs were discovered almost simultaneously along with carbon nanotubes (CNTs), their potential in biomedical applications still appears unrealized. The existence of CNOs is equally important, just like any other carbon nanostructures such as CNTs and fullerenes, because they display the ability of carbon to form another unique nanostructure with wonderful properties. Therefore, this mini-review summarizes recent studies geared towards developing CNOs for various biomedical applications, including sensing, drug delivery, imaging, tissue engineering, and as a therapeutic drug. It concludes by discussing other potential applications of this unique nanomaterial.