C. López-Santos, F. Yubero, J. Cotrino, A. Barranco, A.R. González-Elipe
Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 41 (2008) 225209 (12pp)
doi: 10.1088/0022-3727/41/22/225209

Wetting properties of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and low-density polyethylene polymers have been investigated after treatment with a microwave (MW) plasma discharge at low pressure and a dielectric barrier discharge at atmospheric pressure. Experiments have also been carried out in situ with an atom source installed in an x-ray photoemission spectrometer (XPS). The water contact angle measured on both polymers experienced a significant decrease after activation, but a progressive recovery up to different values after ageing. Standard chemical analysis by XPS showed that the plasma and oxygen beam treatments produced an increase in the concentration of –C(O)x functional groups at the outermost surface layers of the treated polymers. Besides, the oxygen distribution between the topmost surface layer and the bulk has been obtained by non-destructive XPS peak shape analysis. Atomic force microscopy analysis of the surface topography showed that, except for PET treated with the MW plasma and the atom beam, the surface roughness increased after the plasma treatments. Wetting angle variations, oxygen content and distribution, surface roughness and evolution of these properties with time are comparatively discussed by taking into account the basic processes that each type of activation procedure induces in the outmost surface layers of the treated polymers.

Plasmas and atom beam activation of the surface of polymers