Summary: This review surveys methods for the fabrication, by plasma surface treatments or plasma polymerization, of polymeric surfaces and thin plasma polymer coatings that contain reactive chemical groups useful for the subsequent covalent immobilization, by solution chemical reactions or vapor phase grafting, of molecules or polymers that can exert bio-specific interfacial responses. Surfaces containing amine, carboxy, hydroxy, and aldehyde groups are the subject of this review. Aminated surfaces have been fabricated using various plasma vapors or mixtures and have found wide use for bio-interface applications. However, in many cases the amine surfaces have a rather limited shelf life, with post-plasma oxidation reactions and surface adaptation leading to the disappearance of amine groups from the surface. Aging is a widespread phenomenon that often has not been recognized, particularly in some of the earlier studies on the use of plasma-fabricated surfaces for bio-interfacial applications, and can markedly alter the surface chemistry. Plasma-fabricated surfaces that contain carboxy groups have also been well documented. Fewer reports exist on hydroxy and aldehyde surfaces prepared by plasma methods. Hydroxy surfaces can be prepared by water plasma treatment or the plasma polymerization of alkyl alcohol vapors. Water plasma treatment on many polymer substrates suffers from aging, with surface adaptation leading to the movement of surface modification effects into the polymer. Both hydroxy and aldehyde surfaces have been used for the covalent immobilization of biologically active molecules. Aging effects are less well documented than for amine surfaces. This review also surveys studies using such surfaces for cell colonization assays. Generally, these surface chemistries show good ability to support cell colonization, though the effectiveness seems to depend on the process vapor and the plasma conditions. Carboxylate co-polymer surfaces have shown excellent ability to support the colonization of some human cell lines of clinical interest. Immobilization of proteins onto plasma-carboxylated surfaces is also well established.
XPS O/C ratios (00 emission) as a function of storage time, of plasma-polymerized methyl methacrylate deposited at power levels of 5 and 40 W.