Thorough understanding of how to control cell behaviors including cell adhesion, orientation, migration and differentiation on an artificial surface is critical in materials and life sciences such as advanced biomedical engineering, tissue engineering, and cell-based bioassay. In nature, extracellular matrix (ECM) plays an important role in controlling cell behaviors. It can not only provide the cells with mechanical support but also profoundly affect cell functions such as metabolism, movement and transport process. Functional polymer surface exhibits superior advantages over many other materials for use as artificial ECM owing to its excellent mechanical properties, abundant chemical species and remarkable capability to form various topographical surfaces. In particular, surface chemistry, mechanical properties and topography of these functional polymers are found to be three major parameters for effective control of cell behaviors. This paper comprehensively reviews the fundamental understanding of functional polymer surfaces for controlling cell behaviors. Different fabrication methods to achieve functional polymer surfaces and the parameters for effective control of cell behaviors are discussed. The future prospects and challenges particularly in cell biomedical engineering are also discussed at the end of this review paper.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2017.07.002