Plasmas enable the fabrication of nanocomposites via in situ reduction of metal precursors dispersed in polymer films. The mechanism for reduction has not yet been revealed and it is not known how plasma parameters affect nanoparticle formation. Here, we present a systematic study using a low-pressure, pulsed electron beam generated argon plasma to treat silver cation-containing polyacrylic acid films. The background pressure, treatment time, period, and pulse width are varied to influence charged species generation. We show a direct correlation between nanoparticle density, as assessed by ultraviolet-visible absorbance analysis, and the charge fluence. Although the experiments could not separate the specific role of ions and electrons, our results demonstrate the importance of charged species to nanoparticle formation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation, Grant number: SNM-1246715; National Science Foundation and the Naval Research Laboratory base program
S.G., C.A.Z., and R.M.S. are grateful to the National Science Foundation for supporting this work under Grant No. SNM-1246715. D.R.B., S.C.H., and S.G.W. were supported under the NRL base program.