A dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma, operating in air at atmospheric pressure, has been used to induce changes in the surface properties of poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) films. The relative effects that key DBD operating parameters, specifically: discharge power, electrode gap and duration of exposure have on producing chemical and microstructural changes in the polymer surface region have been investigated. The approach taken involves the application of an orthogonal array experimental design and statistical analysis methodology. The various data sets obtained from these analyses have been used to develop an equation in which induced changes in the surface properties of the DBD modified PMMA films are expressed in terms of the effectiveness of the various processing parameters in producing them.In general, the results obtained clearly indicate that DBD plasma processing is an effective method for the controlled surface modification of PMMA. Relatively short exposures to the atmospheric pressure discharge produces a significant amount of oxygen incorporation at the surface as indicted by a pronounced reduction in water contact angle. Analysis of the role of each of the operating parameters concerned shows that they do indeed have selective effectiveness for inducing resultant surface modification. Duration of exposure to the DBD plasma, expressed here as the number of treatment cycles at a given speed of specimen transit through the electrode gap, was found to play a major role in decreasing the surface wettability of PMMA. Conversely, the magnitude of the discharge power was not a significant parameter in this regard. In contrast, the value of the applied power played the dominant role in achieving the observed enrichment of the surface oxygen abundance, as measured by XPS, with the duration of exposure to the discharge playing a secondary role in this case.The nature and scale of the induced surface changes that originate from the various processing conditions employed have been further considered to determine if an interrelationship exists between them. Non-parametric data analysis indicates that no significant correlation exists between the observed changes in measured polymer wettability and the attendant surface oxygen enrichment. This result suggests that the increase in surface wettability caused by DBD processing, as manifested in a reduced contact angle, is not merely attributable to changes in the surface chemistry. As such, it is postulated that changes in the surface microstructure may also contribute to this change in surface wettability.
- Surface modification
- Dielectric barrier discharge
- Atmospheric plasma processing
- Poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA)
- Statistical analysis