Low-pressure, low-temperature plasmas are widely used for materials applications in industries ranging from electronics to medicine. To avoid the high costs associated with vacuum equipment, there has always been a strong motivation to operate plasmas at higher pressures, up to atmospheric. However, high-pressure operation of plasmas often leads to instabilities and gas heating, conditions that are unsuitable for materials applications. The recent development of microscale plasmas (i.e. microplasmas) has helped realize the sustainment of stable, non-thermal plasmas at atmospheric pressure and enable low-cost materials applications. There has also been an unexpected benefit of atmospheric-pressure operation: the potential to fabricate nanoscale materials which is not possible by more conventional, low-pressure plasmas. For example, in a high-pressure environment, nanoparticles can be nucleated in the gas phase from vapour (or solid metal) precursors. Alternatively, non-thermal, atmospheric-pressure plasmas can be coupled with liquids such as water or ethanol to nucleate and modify solution-phase nanoparticles. In this perspective paper, we review some of these recent efforts and provide an outlook for the rapidly emerging field of atmospheric-pressure plasmas for nanofabrication.
|Journal||Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics|
|Publication status||Published (in print/issue) - 2011|