Preface

Initially, the field of composite materials concerns essentially the aerospace industry and other engineering applications. Due to their good mechanical characteristics in terms of stiffness and strength coupled with mass-saving advantage and other attractive physico-chemical properties, their use is seen to be growing rapidly and now extends in a wide range of various fields among them: medicine and nanotechnology. Some imaginable techniques towards the application of nanotechnology in medicine have become realities, where significant progress has been made in recent years. Other research studies including "innovative techniques" are still in their various stages of development.

For instance, in orthopedic and stomatological applications, implants of repair and reconstruction of bones made of composite materials have been produced with similar properties to the real bones. Some of these composite bone grafts are now implanted in the skeletal system of human body. In addition, dental amalgams for dental filling used before to repair tooth structure using a mixture of mercury, silver and other metals are now replaced by composite materials (ceramic and synthetic resin): a new challenge in the field of aesthetic dentistry. Furthermore, important scientific advances in the field of liposomes as drug carriers and medical stents using composite materials were carried out successfully in various research laboratories. Their beneficial impact on the human being will be proved in the coming years.

Much of the book focuses on advanced activities and results conducted within the field of nanotechnology and related materials. These results are obtained using theoretical and/or experimental methods. In addition, the confidence in the developed theories is established by a simple comparison of results. The resulting discrepancy provides information on tolerance data before undergoing rigorous qualification tests on the material, process and product. On the other hand, the assessment and optimization of material characteristics will lead to select the right and safe nano-material for use in specific applications such as electronics, mechanics, optics, biology, chemistry, and so on. Some examples, aiming to design and produce new devices, are presented in this book. However, results are achieved when multidisciplinary approaches are involved.

But taking into account ethical and ecological considerations, researchers and scientists involved with use of composite materials in medicine applications and/or nano-technology are strongly encouraged to integrate health and environmental aspects in the analysis and design of a new composite product development, providing then a better assessment of health and environmental performances. In addition, adopting

X Preface the strategy of ecodesign with the object to green products can also contribute to the enhancement of human well-being and living conditions for present and future generations.

Given the importance of the two key disciplines (i.e., medicine and nano-technology), the material published in this book has been grouped into two main parts, for which the 24 chapters composing the book have been divided into the following parts:

• Medicine, dental and pharmaceutical applications: research was focused on the use of bio-composites for bone cancer treatments, bone grafts, artificial prostheses, to replace or repair tissues in the human body (i.e., medical stents), dental fillers and prosthetic dentistry. Recent studies with liposomes (nano-spherical vesicles) as drug carriers are presented.

• Nanocomposites for energy efficiency: investigations were undertaken on renewable energy techniques to achieve clean and high energy conversion efficiency using photovotaic cells, solar cells, nanoparticles, nanowires, nanotubes, nanofibers and nano-porous materials for hydrogen storage.

• Characterization and fabrication: studies were conducted on mechanical characterization of plasma and coating to sustain stress and corrosion, to lock radiation and on the production of nanocarbon materials.

With the collaboration of all authors in their best research work, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to edit this important book, opening a new challenge in the world of composite materials and the achieved advancements of specialists in their respective areas of research in medicine and nanotechnology.

I would like to thank the authors of the chapters of this book for their remarkable contributions in their areas of expertise and I genuinely appreciate the resulting synergy between theory and practice coming from all around the world. Without this rich variety of contributions, the existence of the Book titled "Advances in Composite Materials for Medicine and Nanotechnology" would not have been possible.

I also wish to acknowledge the help given by InTech Open Access Publisher staff, in particular Ivana Lorkovic for her assistance and support.

January 2011

Dr Brahim Attaf

Marseille, France

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