C. López-Santos, F. Yubero, J. Cotrino, A.R. González-Elipe
Surface and Coatings Technology, 205 (2011) 3356–3364
Low density polyethylene (LDPE) films have been treated with different nitrogen containing plasmas with the purpose of incorporating nitrogen functional groups on its surface and analyzing the changes experienced in their surface tension. Effects of a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) at atmospheric pressure and a microwave discharge (MW) at reduced pressure are compared with those obtained by using an atom source supplied with N2 and mixtures Ar + NH3 as plasma gas. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis has provided information about the chemical surface changes whereas the surface topography of the treated samples has been examined by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Non-destructive depth profiles of oxygen and carbon have been obtained for the treated and one month aged samples by means of the non-destructive Tougaard’s method of XPS background analysis. Generally, an oxygen enrichment of the deeper region of treated LDPE surfaces has been observed. Chemical derivatization of the treated samples has shown that a DBD plasma with a mixture of Ar + NH3 was the most efficient treatment for nitrogen and amine group functionalization. It is argued that the high concentration of NH* species in this plasma is the most important factor in enhancing the nitrogen functionalization of this polymer. It has been also found that the observed increase in hydrophilicity and surface tension cannot be attributed to the anchored nitrogen functional groups formed on plasma treated LDPE. Differences in the plasma activation behaviour of LDPE and that of other polymers subjected to similar treatments are stressed.