The concepts hybrid and hybridization are common in many scientific fields, as in the taxonomic parts of botany and zoology, in modern genetic, and in the quantum–mechanical theory of atomic–molecular orbitals, which are of foremost relevance in most aspects of modern chemistry. Years
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The concepts hybrid and hybridization are common in many scientific fields, as in the taxonomic parts of botany and zoology, in modern genetic, and in the quantum–mechanical theory of atomic–molecular orbitals, which are of foremost relevance in most aspects of modern chemistry. Years later, scientists applied the concept hybrid to colloids, if the particles’ domains are endowed with functionalities differing each from the other in nature and/or composition. For such denomination to be fully valid, the domains belonging to a given hybrid must be recognizable each from another in terms of some intrinsic features. Thus, the concept applies to particles where a given domain has its own physical state, functionality, or composition. Literature examples in this regard are many. Different domains that are present in hybrid colloids self-organize, self-sustain, and self-help, according to the constraints dictated by kinetic and/or thermodynamic stability rules. Covalent, or non-covalent, bonds ensure the formation of such entities, retaining the properties of a given family, in addition to those of the other, and, sometimes, new ones. The real meaning of this behavior is the same as in zoology; mules are pertinent examples, since they retain some features of their own parents (i.e., horses and donkeys) but also exhibit completely new ones, such as the loss of fertility. In colloid sciences, the concept hybrid refers to composites with cores of a given chemical type and surfaces covered by moieties differing in nature, or physical state. This is the result of a mimicry resembling the ones met in a lot of biological systems and foods, too. Many combinations may occur. Silica nanoparticles on which polymers/biopolymers are surface-bound (irrespective of whether binding is covalent or not) are pertinent examples. Here, efforts are made to render clear the concept, which is at the basis of many applications in the biomedical field, and not only. After a historical background and on some features of the species taking part to the formation of hybrids, we report on selected cases met in modern formulations of mixed, and sometimes multifunctional, colloid entities.