Graphene nanoparticle hybrids exist in two forms, graphene−nanoparticle composites and graphene-encapsulated nanoparticles, and can be used for various bioapplications including biosensors, photothermal therapies, stem cell/tissue engineering, drug/gene delivery, and bioimaging.

Graphene is composed of single-atom thick sheets of carbon atoms that are arranged in a perfect two-dimensional honeycomb lattice. Owing to this structure, graphene is characterized by a number of unique and exceptional properties and is currently, without any doubt, the most intensively studied material for a wide range of applications that include electronic, energy, and sensing outlets. Moreover, due to these unique chemical and physical properties, graphene has attracted increasing interest, and arguably hold the greatest promise, for implementation to a wide array of biological applications ranging from the delivery of chemotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer to biosensing applications for a host of medical conditions and even for the differentiation and imaging of stem cells. While promising and exciting, recent reports have demonstrated that the combination of graphene with nanomaterials such as nanoparticles to form graphene-nanoparticle hybrid structures offers a number of additional unique functional physicochemical properties and functions that are both highly desirable and markedly advantageous for bio-applications when compared to the use of either material alone. These graphene-nanoparticle hybrid structures are especially alluring because not only do they display the individual properties of the nanoparticles, which can already possess beneficial optical, electronic, magnetic, and structural properties that are unavailable in bulk materials, and of graphene, but they also exhibit additional synergistic properties that greatly augment their potential for bio-applications. Owing to the great potential that graphene-nanoparticle hybrids have for biological applications, Prof. Lee’s lab has been one of the pioneers in applying these hybrid materials to various bioapplications. For instance, Prof. Lee’s lab recently developed a label-free polypeptide-based biosensor for enzyme detection using a graphene-gold nanoparticle (AuNP) composite. Using this method, the sensitive (with limit of detection of 1 μM) and selective detection of Carboxypeptidase B, a predictor for severe acute pancreatitis, was achieved. On the other hand, Prof. Lee’s lab also applied graphene-nanoparticle hybrids to control stem cell behavior. In this case, arrays of graphene-nanoparticle hybrid structures were generated to guide the differentiation and alignment of human NSCs.

Owing to the rapid expansion of the field as well as Prof. Lee’s excellent work on graphene-nanoparticle hybrids for bioapplications, his group recently published a review article in Chemical Reviews, which represents the first complex work covering all modes and methods for the synthesis of graphene-nanoparticle hybrid materials, its unique chemical and physical properties, and, most importantly, its implementation to bioapplications. Specifically, the Review focuses on graphene-nanoparticle hybrid materials for biosensing, multifunctional drug delivery, imaging, as well as for the control of stem cell differentiation with particular emphasis on the advantages and differences that are conferred by the use of graphene-nanoparticle hybrid materials over conventional methods in each area. As a result, this article has great potential to inspire interest from various disciplines and highlight an up and coming field that can bring synergistic advantages to a wide variety of bioapplications.

This work was recently published in Chemical Reviews (Yin, P.T. et al. 2015, 115 (7): 2483-2531) and was selected to appear on the Cover.



  1. Myung, S.; Yin, P. T.; Kim, C.; Park, J.; Solanki, A.; Reyes, P. I.; Lu, Y. C.; Kim, K. S.; Lee, K. B. Advanced Materials 2012, 24, 6081.
  2. Solanki, A.; Chueng, S.-T. D.; Yin, P. T.; Kappera, R.; Chhowalla, M.; Lee, K.-B. Advanced Materials 2013, 25, 5477.
  3. Yin, P. T.; Shah, S.; Chhowalla, M.; Lee, K.-B. Chemical Reviews 2015, 115, 2483.

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Group Members: 

Prof. KiBum Lee                                 Dean Chueng
Shreyas Shah                                     Perry Yin