The use of a micro-cavity discharge array at atmospheric pressure to investigate the spatial modification of polymer surfaces

Paul M. Bryant, Endre J. Szili, Tracie Whittle, Sung Jin Park, J. Gary Eden, Sameer Al-Bataineh, David A. Steele, Robert D. Short, James W. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A micro-cavity discharge array (2500 cavities of 50 μm2 size) was operated in neon at atmospheric pressure to modify polystyrene (PS), fluorinated ethylene-propylene co-polymer (FEP) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) polymer surfaces and, with the injection of a polymerisable monomer (acrylic acid), to deposit patterned, thin polymeric coatings. The aim of this study was to investigate the utility of these micro-discharge sources in the surface treatment of polymers and for the patterned deposition of polymeric material. The influence of the driving frequency, treatment time and sample-array distance on polymer surface treatment was investigated. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) was used to explore the surface chemistry of the treated polymer surfaces and of the polymer deposits. It was found that increasing the micro-cavity discharge source driving frequency and/or treatment time and decreasing the sample-array distance all led to a significant decrease in surface energy as determined by water contact angle measurements. For a period of time, post treatment surface hydrophilicity degraded due to the well known "ageing effect" but stabilized after two days. Finally, it was demonstrated that the device could be used for the localized, array sized, deposition of acrylic acid. High resolution XPS analysis of the deposit registered a C 1s spectra typical of poly(acrylic acid) with a prominent peak centred at approximately 289.3 eV indicating a relatively high level retention of the original monomer functionality. These results demonstrate that micro-cavity discharges, operated at or near atmospheric pressure, can be used to both modify and locally deposit polymeric material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2279-2288
Number of pages10
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 15 2010


  • Atmospheric pressure discharge
  • Hydrophilicity
  • Micro-cavity discharge array
  • Patterned deposition
  • Polymer treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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