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  1. Abstract

    The delivery of biomolecules into cells relies on porating the plasma membrane to allow exterior molecules to enter the cell via diffusion. Various established delivery methods, including electroporation and viral techniques, come with drawbacks such as low viability or immunotoxicity, respectively. An optics-based delivery method that uses laser pulses to excite plasmonic titanium nitride (TiN) micropyramids presents an opportunity to overcome these shortcomings. This laser excitation generates localized nano-scale heating effects and bubbles, which produce transient pores in the cell membrane for payload entry. TiN is a promising plasmonic material due to its high hardness and thermal stability. In this study, two designs of TiN micropyramid arrays are constructed and tested. These designs include inverted and upright pyramid structures, each coated with a 50-nm layer of TiN. Simulation software shows that the inverted and upright designs reach temperatures of 875 °C and 307 °C, respectively, upon laser irradiation. Collectively, experimental results show that these reusable designs achieve maximum cell poration efficiency greater than 80% and viability greater than 90% when delivering calcein dye to target cells. Overall, we demonstrate that TiN microstructures are strong candidates for future use in biomedical devices for intracellular delivery and regenerative medicine.