Plasma processes

Plasma processing is nowadays one of the most important tools in thin film and surface treatment technologies, and thus plays a key role in manufacturing of many innovative products. For this reason, applications of plasma in surface technology belong to main research interests of the Fraunhofer IGB. The used plasmas are low temperature, low-to-medium pressure ones, enabling a gentle and controlled surface processing.

This way we are able to etch surfaces, e.g. to clean them, or to graft new chemical functionalities onto the surface. It is also possible to polymerize a thin film onto the surface, providing such functions as as scratch-resistance, dirt-repellency, or corrosion protection. By controlling the gas composition, power and other process parameters, a broad spectrum of chemical, physical and biological surface modifications is attainable.

Fields of research

 

Functionalization of surfaces

Plasma technology makes it possible to provide surfaces with a variety of properties. This is especially demanded when surfaces are supposed to have different characteristics than the material in volume. Examples are coatings for protection against dirt, scratches or climate and weather influences.

 

Anti-ice coatings

Because of their chemical activity plasmas can interact with water in many ways. Thus, surfaces can be protected by means of plasma technology to moisture and icing. Examples are protective anti-ice coatings of aircraft wings or wind power plant rotor blades.

 

Foils and textiles

Plasma technology can not only be used to equip fixed surfaces but also "mobile" surfaces with special properties. For example, specially treated foils provide a suitable alternative when a surface is not supposed to be coated permanently. These can be conveniently applied in a spatially and temporarily flexible way. Textile materials can be processed just the same, for example to provide clothing with special properties.

 

Modification of fibers

To equip textiles with certain properties they sometimes do not have to be treated as a whole, but only individual fibers within the fabric. Fraunhofer IGB has the appropriate methods and equipment to process individual fibers and yarns.

 

Cleaning and disinfection

Plasmas have a sterilizing effect and can inactivate microorganisms. Thus, they are used in the field of hygienization, for example for cleaning surfaces or for disinfection in food production.

 

Plasma weathering of surfaces

The product development cycles for new paints, coatings and other polymeric materials are complex, expensive and time-consuming, above all because of the testing methods used. Plasma-based processes can imitate outdoor weathering. The effects of radiation, temperature, erosion and moisture, as well as the changes induced by them on the surfaces of polymers, can be obtained in a single process step with plasma processes.

 

Water treatment with plasma

Because of their sterilizing effect plasmas are suitable for water purification. They are able to remove organic pollutants in water without chemicals.

Further information

Plasma impact onto surfaces

Advantages of plasma technologies, and properties of plasma produced films

Cost-efficiency of plasma processes

Environmental aspects of plasma technology

Materials and geometries suitable for plasma treatment