The surface interaction of a well-characterized time modulated radio frequency (RF) plasma jet with polystyrene, poly(methyl methacrylate) and poly(vinyl alcohol) as model polymers is investigated. The RF plasma jet shows fast polymer etching but mild chemical modification with a characteristic carbonate ester and NO formation on the etched surface. By varying the plasma treatment conditions including feed gas composition, environment gaseous composition, and treatment distance, we find that short lived species, especially atomic O for Ar/1% O2 and 1% air plasma and OH for Ar/1% H2O plasma, play an essential role for polymer etching. For O2 containing plasma, we find that atomic O initiates polymer etching and the etching depth mirrors the measured decay of O atoms in the gas phase as the nozzle-surface distance increases. The etching reaction probability of an O atom ranging from 10-4 to 10-3 is consistent with low pressure plasma research. We also find that adding O2 and H2O simultaneously into Ar feed gas quenches polymer etching compared to adding them separately which suggests the reduction of O and OH density in Ar/O2/H2O plasma.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support by the National Science Foundation (PHY-1415353) and the US Department of Energy (DE-SC0001939).
© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.
- atmospheric pressure plasma
- atomic O
- hydroxyl radicall
- plasma jet
- surface modification