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Keywords:

  • Biomaterials;
  • Biomedical materials;
  • Biomimetism;
  • Cell differentiation;
  • Cells;
  • Coatings;
  • Micropatterning;
  • Tissue engineering

Abstract

The design of advanced functional materials with nanometer- and micrometer-scale control over their properties is of considerable interest for both fundamental and applied studies because of the many potential applications for these materials in the fields of biomedical materials, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. The layer-by-layer deposition technique introduced in the early 1990s by Decher, Moehwald, and Lvov is a versatile technique, which has attracted an increasing number of researchers in recent years due to its wide range of advantages for biomedical applications: ease of preparation under “mild” conditions compatible with physiological media, capability of incorporating bioactive molecules, extra-cellular matrix components and biopolymers in the films, tunable mechanical properties, and spatio-temporal control over film organization. The last few years have seen a significant increase in reports exploring the possibilities offered by diffusing molecules into films to control their internal structures or design “reservoirs,” as well as control their mechanical properties. Such properties, associated with the chemical properties of films, are particularly important for designing biomedical devices that contain bioactive molecules. In this review, we highlight recent work on designing and controlling film properties at the nanometer and micrometer scales with a view to developing new biomaterial coatings, tissue engineered constructs that could mimic in vivo cellular microenvironments, and stem cell “niches.”