Understanding polyethylene surface functionalization by an atmospheric He/O-2 plasma through combined experiments and simulations

T Dufour and J Minnebo and S Abou Rich and EC Neyts and A Bogaerts and F Reniers, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS D-APPLIED PHYSICS, 47, 224007 (2014).

DOI: 10.1088/0022-3727/47/22/224007

High density polyethylene surfaces were exposed to the atmospheric post- discharge of a radiofrequency plasma torch supplied in helium and oxygen. Dynamic water contact angle measurements were performed to evaluate changes in surface hydrophilicity and angle resolved x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was carried out to identify the functional groups responsible for wettability changes and to study their subsurface depth profiles, up to 9 nm in depth. The reactions leading to the formation of C-O, C=O and O-C=O groups were simulated by molecular dynamics. These simulations demonstrate that impinging oxygen atoms do not react immediately upon impact but rather remain at or close to the surface before eventually reacting. The simulations also explain the release of gaseous species in the ambient environment as well as the ejection of low molecular weight oxidized materials from the surface.

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