The cellular microenvironment is extremely complex, and a plethora of materials and methods have been employed to mimic its properties in vitro. In particular, scientists and engineers have taken an interdisciplinary approach in their creation of synthetic biointerfaces that replicate chemical and physical aspects of the cellular microenvironment. Here the focus is on the use of synthetic materials or a combination of synthetic and biological ligands to recapitulate the defined surface chemistries, microstructure, and function of the cellular microenvironment for a myriad of biomedical applications. Specifically, strategies for altering the surface of these environments using self-assembled monolayers, polymer coatings, and their combination with patterned biological ligands are explored. Furthermore, methods for augmenting an important physical property of the cellular microenvironment, topography, are highlighted, and the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches are discussed. Finally, the progress of materials for prolonged stem cell culture, a key component in the translation of stem cell therapeutics for clinical use, is featured.


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