PLASMA POLYMER

PLASMA POLYMER

Research Projects

Plasma polymerization (or glow discharge polymerization) uses plasma sources to generate a gas discharge that provides energy to activate or fragment gaseous or liquid monomer, often containing a vinyl group, in order to initiate polymerization. Polymers formed from this technique are generally highly branched and highly cross-linked, and adhere to solid surfaces well. The biggest advantage to this process is that polymers can be directly attached to a desired surface while the chains are growing, which reduces steps necessary for other coating processes such as grafting. This is very useful for pinhole-free coatings of 100 picometers to 1 micrometre thickness with solvent insoluble polymers. In as early as the 1870s “polymers” formed by this process were known, but these polymers were initially thought of as undesirable byproducts associated with electric discharge, with little attention being given to their properties.[1] It was not until the 1960s that the properties of these polymers where found to be useful.[2] It was found that flawless thin polymeric coatings could be formed on metals, although for very thin films (<10mm) this has recently been shown to be an oversimplification.[3][4] By selecting the monomer type and the energy density per monomer, known as the Yasuda parameter, the chemical composition and structure of the resulting thin film can be varied with a wide range. These films are usually inert, adhesive, and have low dielectric constants.[1] Some common monomers polymerized by this method include styrene, ethylene, methacrylate and pyridine, just to name a few. The 1970s brought about many advances in plasma polymerization, including the polymerization of many different types of monomers. The mechanisms of deposition however were largely ignored until more recently. Since this time most attention devoted to plasma polymerization has been in the fields of coatings, but since it is difficult to control polymer structure, it has limited applications.

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