What is plasma cleaning?

Plasma cleaning is a process that is gaining more popularity in thin film applications due its highly effective performance on cleaning and modifying surfaces.

What is Plasma?

Plasma is an energy-rich gas state that can be used to modify the surface of a product to improve its performance. This modification can be improving the adhesion of a surface or changing the surface characteristics.

Plasma technology is based on a simple physical principle.

Matter changes its state when energy is supplied to it.

Solids become liquid. Liquids become gas.

If additional energy is then fed into a gas by means of electrical discharge it eventually ionises and goes into the energy-rich plasma state, the fourth state of matter.

Plasma is created.

How can Plasma be used for cleaning surfaces?

Plasma treatment can clean, activate or coat nearly all surfaces. These surfaces include plastics, metals, (e.g., aluminum), glass, recycled materials and composite materials. This means the plasma process can be highly effective on many different products.

For cleaning the surfaces the plasma treatment can be used in two highly effective ways. 

That is it can:

  1. Clean the surface of the product to be 100% contamination free. The surface will be free of residues and contamination.
  2. Activate the surface of the product to allow easier bonding and better adhesion of the thin films. It can change the surface energy of the surface to ensure complete adhesion is possible and in some cases it can make materials bond where it was previously impossible.

These properties make it an interesting technique for improving the surface performance of any surface.

What are the typical plasma processes available for surface treatment?

There are traditionally three types of plasma treatment:

  1. Low-pressure plasma
  2. Corona treatment
  3. Atmospheric pressure plasma

Low-pressure plasma

These plasmas are generated in closed chambers in a vacuum (10-3 to 10-9 bar).

They can be used in conjunction with Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) coatings like Parylene before application.

Corona treatment

Corona treatment (corona process) is a physical process involving high voltage and is mainly used for treatment of films.  

Atmospheric pressure plasma

Atmospheric plasma is generated under normal pressure. This means that low-pressure chambers are not required.

The plasma is created with clean/dry compressed air (plant air) and does not require forming gases. It is possible to integrate plasma directly into manufacturing processes under normal pressure conditions.

What sectors is plasma treatment used?

There are many sectors that plasma cleaning is used for improving surface performance.

They include:

  • Automotive
  • Telecommunications
  • Mobile phone and Tablets
  • Aerospace
  • Military
  • Transport
  • Consumer goods
  • Life sciences
  • LED Coating

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