Theranostics 2021; 11(19):9262-9295. doi:10.7150/thno.64511 This issue


Shining light on chiral inorganic nanomaterials for biological issues

Yining Shao1#, Guilin Yang1#, Jiaying Lin2#, Xiaofeng Fan1, Yue Guo1, Wentao Zhu1, Ying Cai1, Huiyu Huang1, Die Hu1, Wei Pang1, Yanjun Liu3✉, Yiwen Li2✉, Jiaji Cheng2✉, Xiaoqian Xu1✉

1. Key Laboratory of Cell Biology, Ministry of Public Health and Key Laboratory of Medical Cell Biology, Ministry of Education, China Medical University, Shenyang 110122, China.
2. School of Materials Science and Engineering, Hubei University, Wuhan 430062, China.
3. Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Shao Y, Yang G, Lin J, Fan X, Guo Y, Zhu W, Cai Y, Huang H, Hu D, Pang W, Liu Y, Li Y, Cheng J, Xu X. Shining light on chiral inorganic nanomaterials for biological issues. Theranostics 2021; 11(19):9262-9295. doi:10.7150/thno.64511. Available from

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Graphic abstract

The rapid development of chiral inorganic nanostructures has greatly expanded from intrinsically chiral nanoparticles to more sophisticated assemblies made by organics, metals, semiconductors, and their hybrids. Among them, lots of studies concerning on hybrid complex of chiral molecules with achiral nanoparticles (NPs) and superstructures with chiral configurations were accordingly conducted due to the great advances such as highly enhanced biocompatibility with low cytotoxicity and enhanced penetration and retention capability, programmable surface functionality with engineerable building blocks, and more importantly tunable chirality in a controlled manner, leading to revolutionary designs of new biomaterials for synergistic cancer therapy, control of enantiomeric enzymatic reactions, integration of metabolism and pathology via bio-to nano or structural chirality. Herein, in this review our objective is to emphasize current research state and clinical applications of chiral nanomaterials in biological systems with special attentions to chiral metal- or semiconductor-based nanostructures in terms of the basic synthesis, related circular dichroism effects at optical frequencies, mechanisms of induced optical chirality and their performances in biomedical applications such as phototherapy, bio-imaging, neurodegenerative diseases, gene editing, cellular activity and sensing of biomarkers so as to provide insights into this fascinating field for peer researchers.

Keywords: chiral inorganic nanomaterials, induced optical chirality, phototherapy, neurodegenerative diseases, gene editing