What is Plasma Treatment An Overview Of The Plasma Treatment Process

What is Plasma Treatment?

Plasma Treatment - Modifying Surfaces and Powders • Cleaning, activating, etching and coating

What is Plasma Treatment and what does Thierry Corp. offer?

Plasma treatment is a method to clean, activate, etch and coat surfaces. It is more environmentally friendly and cost-effective compared to alternative methods since no waste disposal of harmful chemicals is necessary. This makes this method ideal for a variety of applications like plasma cleaning aerospace or automotive components. 

The Thierry Corp. offers two types of plasma systems, low pressure and atmospheric pressure. Low-pressure plasma treatment systems can treat 2-D objects, 3-D objects, and bulk materials uniformly. In contrast, atmospheric pressure plasma treatment systems can treat 2-D objects uniformly and can be incorporated into existing automated systems.


Plasma Treatment of Powders

Powders have many properties that prevent them from being an ideal material for certain industries. They have low wettability (adhesion) and large surface area. To modify the surface, plasma treatment is currently a low budget, environmentally friendly (no waste disposal of dangerous chemicals), and successful option. 

Plasma treatment can effectively plasma clean or plasma activate the surfaces of powder. It also has the ability to create hydrophilic properties in the powder through increasing the wettability. The contact angle decreases while the surface energy increases as the powder is treated for a longer period of time. 

Other treatment options such as flame treatment and wet chemistry processes are costly, harmful to the environment, and even dangerous. They also may not be as effective as plasma treatment. Plasma treatment is currently the most popular form of treatment for powders. Contact our experts at Thierry Corp. to achieve your goals in the plasma processing of powders.


To learn more about the use of plasma in manufacturing, please read our eBook titled "Manufacturer’s Surface Activation Guide for Improved Adhesion."




Plasma Treatment of Surfaces

When it comes to plasma, surface treatment is one of the most utilised plasma processes in different fields of different industries. Plasma surface treatment processes include (but are not limited to), implanting, cleaning, sputtering, and chemically activating or coating materials, on both heat sensitive and heat tolerant materials. 


Coatings can just be decorative but they can also be functional, micro and nanostructured, bioactive, heat resistant, antifriction, wear-resistant, hydrophobic, and hydrophilic or display combinations of all those properties. When etching or cleaning a given surface is required plasma can do the trick. Surface plasma cleaning works either by sputtering with an inert gas, which is the atomic scale equivalent of sandblasting or by etching with chemically reactive plasma. In both cases, the surface will be bright and shiny after the plasma treatment


Plasma can even change the physical properties of the treated material by implanting high energetic ions into the atomic lattice of the substrate or by depositing fine-tuned surface layers of doped materials. 


Another great example of plasma surface treatment is the activation of the surface, which can lead to improved bonding capabilities. This means that glue or paint sticks much better to the surface and the glued connections get much stronger. So, one can see that there many possibilities for plasma surface treatments and we at the Thierry Corporation can help you with all of them.


Advantages of Plasma Treated Surfaces

There are several huge advantages that one can get from plasma-treated surfaces. 

  • One is the high cost-effectiveness – plasma treatment usually does not require large amounts of toxic chemicals that are either expensive or expensive to dispose of.

  • Plasma surface treatment is also very precise. Some structures like materials for microelectronics or nanostructured surfaces need precisely tailored patterns, for example deep, narrow nano trenches. Here plasma processes are definitely superior compared to their wet chemical counterparts. If liquid agents are applied, they tend to ‘under-etch’ such structures, creating unwanted holes or blobs. This can be totally avoided with plasma – plasma makes the whole process neat and tidy!

  • The third advantage is that cold plasma can be created and used for surface treatment. This is particularly interesting for the treatment of heat-sensitive materials such as polymers because the process temperature on the surface can stay at room temperature or only slightly above. 

  • Another advantage is the high degree of flexibility that plasma-based processes offer. A single plasma chamber with one particular plasma source can fulfil several different tasks without being modified; only the process or precursor gases have to be changed and the plasma power supply has to be readjusted for a particular process. A plasma system is, thus, a kind of Swiss army knife for production lines and Thierry Plasma offers exactly what you need – no matter if you have low or atmospheric pressure applications, Thierry Corp. can help you with your plasma sources!

  • Last but not least some processes are even only possible with the help of plasma treatment. The best example of such a process is plasma coating with diamond or diamond-like carbon over a large area. There is currently no other possibility to achieve these hard coatings with any other means than with plasma deposition. 

The treated surfaces can be tailored to fulfill a large variety of needs: They can be smooth down to the nanometre scale, they can have nanostructures, giving them incredibly large surface areas and they can be made wear-resistant or have increased hardness. 


They can have doping atoms implanted, which changes the physical properties like electrical conductivity, heat conductivity, or optical properties like the index of refraction or the reflection and transmission coefficient. If the surfaces need to be glued together, plasma activation can enhance the adhesion properties, making the glue joints stronger or enhancing the bonding of paint. 


Whatever your plasma coating or plasma processing needs are, the Thierry Corporation is the right partner for you!


How is plasma generated?

There are as nearly as many possibilities to create plasma as there are to utilise it. 

The oldest method of creating plasma is applying a high direct current (dc) discharge voltage between two electrodes in a low-pressure tube. 

Another method is to use high-frequency electromagnetic waves like radio frequency or microwaves.There are some important variations to this concept, one being a so-called dielectric barrier discharge, or DBD for short. In a DBD one still has two electrodes with a high frequency in between but one or both electrodes are electrically insulated. This allows the creation of quite homogeneous plasma with high density and over large surfaces. 

At last, is the pulsed dc discharge. This method allows the generation of cold plasma that does not heat up the treated surface very much. The pulse duration is very short, mostly just some nanoseconds (or one billionth of a second). High frequency and DBD discharges can be used in static plasma treatment setups or in roll-to-roll production lines where fabrics like cotton or polymer foils are treated continuously. 



What is plasma?

Plasma is formed when electrons get detached from atoms or molecules and can move around freely. This mostly occurs in gases but under certain circumstances also liquids and even solids can be regarded as plasma. The ability of free electrons to move around leads to good electrical conductivity and interesting physical properties that plasma has. It can, for example, be very well controlled by using electric or magnetic fields. Thus, plasma enables a vast variety of high-tech applications, such as plasma surface treatment.


What does plasma treatment do?

Plasma treatment can do a lot of things, depending on the kind of treatment that is used. For example, on surfaces, it can coat, etch, sputter, polish, clean, alter adhesion properties or change the surface’s wettability. Of course, one can also have combinations of those treatment possibilities, even in the same plasma process device. Plasma treatment enables custom-tailored surfaces for a large variety of purposes, either by adding, altering, or removing atomic layers from the surface.


How is plasma used in technology?

There are many possibilities for technological plasma applications, both for low pressure and atmospheric pressure plasma. Besides surface treatment, plasma is also used in welding, for harnessing energy via fusion reactions and even in medicine and cosmetics. The latter two technologies rely heavily on atmospheric pressure plasma sources that can be used to treat melanoma, chronic wounds or remove impurities from the skin.


What is plasma surface treatment?

Plasma surface treatment is any technology in which the ingredients of a plasma (atoms, molecules, ions and electrons) impinge on a surface in order to create the desired effect. Since the ions and electrons are electrically charged, they can be nicely controlled with electric and/or magnetic fields. This allows adjusting and monitoring the energy with which those particles hit the surface. Depending on the impact energy this can lead to chemical activation of the surface, etching, sputtering, ion implantation into the surface, cleaning on an atomic level, improving adhesion properties or changing the wettability of the surface. So, if you want to have shiny surfaces, surfaces with nanostructures, hard surfaces, surfaces that are either hydrophilic or hydrophobic, or surfaces that are easier to glue together with a stronger bonding, plasma treatment is the optimal technology.


How long does a plasma treatment take 

Plasma treatment time is strongly dependent on the kind of surface treatment and the applied plasma power. It can range from fractions of a second (mostly for surface activation processes) up to hours or even days (in the case of large-area coating processes). However, no matter how long a plasma treatment takes, the control and monitoring of the process parameters are crucial in order to obtain the desired results. This puts strong requirements on the plasma sources, which have to be taken into account when purchasing equipment.


What are 3 important uses of plasma?

3 examples of important uses of plasma are surface plasma treatment, plasma welding and energy creation via fusion plasma.


What plasma technologies are currently developed in laboratories?

Here are a lot of promising technologies developed in laboratories throughout the world.. The most important technology, which is also studied to the greatest extent, is fusion. 

This process involves high-temperature plasma that consists of the two hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium, which are usually magnetically confined at temperatures of several million degrees. At such high temperatures, the isotopes are smashed together and form helium and release vast amounts of energy. 

The second example is laser-plasma acceleration, which has a large number of potential applications for future technologies, ranging from material science to cancer treatment. For this technology high-power laser beams are used to create a dense plasma in the first place and then accelerate the charged particles to extremely high energies. 

The third example of future technology is the novel field of plasma agriculture. It has been demonstrated that cold, atmospheric pressure plasma can have an advantageous influence on seeds, seedlings and agricultural produce. 

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