The present investigation studys the effects of different electrodes such as copper, nickel, and stainless steel under low-pressure plasma on physicochemical and adhesion characteristics ofhigh-density polyethylene (HDPE). To estimate the extent of surface modification, the surface energies of the polymer surfaces exposed to low-pressure plasmas have been determined by measuring contact angles using two standard test liquids of known surface energies. It is observed that the surface energy and its polar component increase with increasing exposure time, attain a maximum, and then decrease. The increase in surface energy and its polar component is relatively more important when the polymer is exposed under a stainless-steelelectrode followed by a nickel and then a copper electrode. The dispersion component of surface energy remains almost unaffected. The surfaces have also been studied by optical microscopy and electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA). It is observed that when the HDPE is exposed under these electrodes, single crystals of shish kebab structure form, and the extent of formation of crystals is higher under a stainless-steel electrode followed by nickel and then copper electrodes. Exposure of the polymer under low-pressure plasma has essentially incorporated oxygen functionalities on the polymer surface as detected by ESCA. Furthermore the ESCA studies strongly emphasize that higher incorporation of oxygen functionalities are obtained when the polymer is exposed to low-pressure plasma under a stainless-steel electrode followed by nickel and then copper electrodes. These oxygen functionalities have been transformed into various polar functional groups, which have been attributed to increases in the polar component of surface energy as well as the total surface energy of the polymer. Therefore, the maximum increase in surface energy results in stronger adhesion of the polymer when the polymer is exposed under a stainless-steel electrode rather than nickel and copper electrodes.
Shantanu Bhowmik, Bonin, H. W., Bui, V. T., and Chaki, T. K., “Physicochemical and adhesion characteristics of high-density polyethylene when treated in a low-pressure plasma under different electrodes”, The Journal of Adhesion, vol. 82, pp. 1–18, 2006.