• photoinitiated chemical vapor deposition;
  • pHEMA;
  • cell culture coating;
  • degradation;
  • swelling


Poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) is a widely utilized biomaterial due to lack of toxicity and suitable mechanical properties; conformal thin pHEMA films produced via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) would thus have broad biomedical applications. Thin films of pHEMA were deposited using photoinitiated CVD (piCVD). Incorporation of ethylene glycol diacrylate (EGDA) into the pHEMA polymer film as a crosslinker, confirmed via Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, resulted in varied swelling and degradation behavior. 2-Hydroxyethyl methacrylate-only films showed significant thickness loss (up to 40%), possibly due to extraction of low-molecular-weight species or erosion, after 24 h in aqueous solution, whereas films crosslinked with EGDA (9.25–12.4%) were stable for up to 21 days. These results differ significantly from those obtained with plasma-polymerized pHEMA, which degraded steadily over a 21-day period, even with crosslinking. This suggests that the piCVD films differ structurally from those fabricated via plasma polymerization (plasma-enhanced CVD). piCVD pHEMA coatings proved to be good cell culture materials, with Caco-2 cell attachment and viability comparable to results obtained on tissue-culture polystyrene. Thus, thin film CVD pHEMA offers the advantage of enabling conformal coating of a cell culture substrate with tunable properties depending on method of preparation and incorporation of crosslinking agents. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 102A: 2375–2382, 2014.