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Interface and surface analysis for pharmaceutical applications: Challenges and recent advances


*Corresponding author
1. Interface and Surface Analysis Centre, Boots Science Building, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, United Kingdom
2. University of Nottingham, School of Pharmacy, Boots Science Building, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, United Kingdom
3. National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LW, United Kingdom


Innovation in R&D is a key target for the pharmaceutical sector to address some of the challenges it currently faces. This review discusses these challenges in the context of pharmaceutically relevant surfaces and interfaces. The surface properties of materials determine many pharmaceutically important interactions and can be drastically different from the material’s bulk properties. We first introduce current challenges in the surface and interface analysis of pharmaceutical materials in the context of design, administration and fabrication. We then review recent scientific and technological advances aimed to address these issues and shortly discuss a small number of examples to illustrate the capabilities of these techniques.


The last decade has presented the pharmaceutical industry with a number of challenges that are expected to affect the long term business models of pharmaceutical companies (1, 2). Concerns relating to aspects of drug safety and efficacy impact the public image of the pharmaceutical sector. Together with the expiration of several key patents in 2010-2014, these developments affect the valuation and profitability of pharmaceutical products (1).

Innovation in R&D and a clear demonstration of the value of pharmaceutical products have been identified as key aspects to tackle these issues (1, 3-5). However, the development of pharmaceutical products is highly challenging and traditionally associated with long and costly development phases. Reforming these processes to minimise risk of failure and reduce development cost has therefore been proposed as a core requirement to reform pharmaceutical development (1, 4-6).

Key aspects for innovation in drug development are to improve the predictability of the properties, performance and production of drugs and to establish mechanisms that enable early go/no-go decisions (1, 3). To real ...