Increasing attention is being given to nanotubes for various biomedical applications, such as artificial ion channels, drug delivery vehicles, and regenerative medicine. The success of these applications relies on their biocompatibility and ability to insert into, and remain stable in, the cell membrane. The general consensus is that, in the absence of functional groups, carbon nanotubes are toxic to cells.123
We provide insight into the interaction of boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) with cell membranes to aid our understanding of their improved biocompatibility compared to carbon nanotubes (CNTs). In contrast to CNTs, no computational studies exist which investigate the insertion mechanism and stability of BNNTs in membranes. Using molecular dynamics simulations we demonstrate that BNNTs are spontaneously attracted to, and stable within the lipid bilayer. Additionally, BNNTs demonstrate an aversion to pore blocking by lipid molecules, whereas CNTs are readily blocked.