Studies On Atmospheric Glow Discharge For Surface Modification Applications
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The properties of materials, especially of solids, can be attributed mainly to the phenomena occurring at the surface. Surface engineering deals with altering the surface properties of materials to realize useful functionalities like wear and corrosion resistance, biocompatibility, hardening etc. Among the various methods adopted, plasma surface modification stands out, because of the inherent dry processing nature and little amount of left over chemicals. In conventional plasma systems, the process is carried out in a low pressure environment. This restricts its use in treating vacuum incompatible materials including tissues and bio-medical samples. Moreover, the batch processing nature and use of expensive vacuum pumps put a bottle-neck in the throughput of any production line. The subject matter of this thesis is about developing and optimizing an atmospheric pressure (760 torr) plasma system and to use it for surface modification of polymers. The experimental system developed, consists of two parallel electrodes facing each other, each of which is covered with a dielectric plate. A gap of 4mm exists between the dielectric surfaces, through which an axial flow of the working gas is maintained. When a high voltage is applied across the electrodes, the gas breaks down, creating plasma. The surface of the sample kept in this plasma, undergoes various phenomena, depending on the power applied, type of gas used and gas flow rate. To drive the plasma a high voltage power supply, which is able to generate 10 kV at 5.8 kHz, was developed in the laboratory. By varying the process parameters, the inherent filamentary nature of discharge can be converted to a diffuse uniform glow. The purity of plasma was studied and established by analyzing the optical emission from the plasma. After optimizing the system, it was used to modify the surface properties of polyester sheets. The wetting nature was altered using fluorocarbon and oxygen plasmas, realizing hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces. The contact angle of a water droplet made with the surface changed from 72° to 84° degree for hydrophobic and to 22° for hydrophilic surfaces respectively. Through this investigation, an insight to the procedure for developing an Atmospheric glow discharge system was developed. The details about system frame work, the power supply, electrical and optical characterization of the plasma, are well studied and recorded. The work establishes the various parameters to be varied to convert the filamentary discharge to a uniform glow. Purity of the plasma has been studied extensively and the system design and process values essential for maintaining the purity have been dealt with. Finally the plasma was put in use for surface modification of polymers, and the surface wetting nature alteration was studied and quantified.