Pulsed plasma discharge polymer coatings

V. Panchalingam, X. Chen, H. H. Huo, C. R. Savage, R. B. Timmons, R. C. Eberhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The authors studied a pulsed radiofrequency glow discharge polymer film deposition method (pRFGD) on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), silicon (Si), and potassium chloride (KCl) surfaces, with the aim of better controlling film uniformity and homogeneity. A pulse generator was used to control a conventional 13.56 MHz RFGD circuit to provide plasma on and off times throughout a wide range of duty cycles. Starting monomers included fluorocarbon monomers (C8F16O and C3F6O) and more conventional unsaturated monomers [acrylonitrile (C3H3N) and vinyl trimethyl silane (C5H12Si)]. With each of these monomers progressive, large scale changes in the molecular structure of the plasma deposited films were noted with systematic variations in the RF duty cycle. Film characterizations were performed using electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA) and fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis. In the case of fluorocarbon (FC) films, systematically decreasing plasma on time at a constant off time resulted in enhanced CF2 and CF3 content compared with that seen with the less highly fluorinated groups. There was virtually no oxygen atom incorporation in the FC films obtained from the oxygen containing monomers. Overall, a dramatic decrease in cross-linking of the FC polymer films was observed with decreasing RF duty cycles. A highly ordered Teflon-like structure was obtained for the lowest duty cycles. In the silane experiments, a systematic variation in the ratio of Si-H/Si-CH3 groups was observed, with this ratio increasing as the RF duty cycle decreased. Experiments with C3H3N revealed an increasing surface density of -CN groups with decreasing RF duty cycle. In general, film deposition rates per unit absorbed RF energy increased markedly with plasma off times, suggesting that significant chemistry and film growth occurred during plasma relaxation. FC coated PET samples were subjected to albumin binding studies. Albumin retention after dilute sodium dodecyl sulfate treatment was significantly increased for FC- PET compared with that seen with PET controls, suggesting that improved surface passivation is possible. The results demonstrate the utility of the variable duty cycle pRFGD method in controlling film chemistry during surface modifications. The authors think this technique offers many advantages, compared with competing approaches, for improving polymer film formation on medical device surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M305-M309
JournalASAIO Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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