Impalefection is a method of gene delivery using nanomaterials, such as carbon nanofibers, carbon nanotubes, nanowires. Needle-like nanostructures are synthesized perpendicular to the surface of a substrate. Plasmid DNA containing the gene, intended for intracellular delivery, is attached to the nanostructure surface. A chip with arrays of these needles is then pressed against cells or tissue. Cells that are impaled by nanostructures can express the delivered gene(s).