IFM's custom-designed plasma laboratory for tailoring surfaces/interfaces and producing new materials opened in 2012. The plasmas we use are not just cool, they are 'cold'. We only use non-equilibrium plasmas in which only the very light electrons are hot. This means that they do not damage delicate materials by heating.
Advanced plasma facility
This custom-designed facility combines physical vapour deposition with plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition in a dual chamber system. In the PVD chamber, a Torus Magnetron sputter source and the substrate rotation feed-through provide the best film uniformity. It also has a high strength magnet assembly for sputtering magnetic materials. The PECVD also includes a substrate heater that allows samples to be heated to 800°C and DC/RF biasing to control the direction of nanomaterial growth. The samples can be horizontally transferred from one chamber to the other via a power probe (without exposure to air). Its multi-functional capabilities enable the dry fabrication of nanostructures (both top-down and bottom-up), their surface treatment, and multi-layer thin films & nanostructuring of materials in one instrument.
Plasma plus thermal system
This system combines plasma and thermal energy to fabricate nano-semiconductors. It can be used for nano-structuring, element doping, and surface cleaning / functionalization. Several plasma sources have been designed to enable different types of nano-fabrication.
Stirring plasma system
We are aiming at surface functionalization of nanopowders or other forms of nano-materials (nanotubes etc). This system addresses the challenge of achieving uniform treatment with a high functional group density and easy handling. It enables uniform surface functionalization of nano-powders (tubes, wires, belts, particles etc).
Gases / monomers Plasma system
This electrode-less reactor enables the controllable and selectable functionality of surfaces or membranes with high stability, on larger samples of any shape. The choice of gases/monomers, pressure, power and duty cycle allows a great degree of control over the polymer and surface functional groups.
Nanosecond pulsed atmospheric pressure plasma system
We have also developed a nanosecond pulsed atmospheric pressure plasma (NPAPP) system for applications in wastewater treatment, biomedicine, and material surface treatment. The system consists of a nanosecond pulsed generator and several different electrodes for specific applications. A plasma can be generated in a liquid as well as gases. The advantage of using an atmospheric pressure plasma is that it does not require a vacuum system so that it can be more easily used at an industrial scale. The very short pulses prevent filament discharges which can give localised damage and highly uneven treatment in gas plasmas. This system combines a pulsed electric field, UV radiation, O₃, and free radicals.
Commercial atmospheric pressure plasma system
Industry prefers to avoid batch treatments in favour of higher throughput continuous systems. Vacuum plasmas necessarily involve batch treatment in a closed container. However, flat and flexible surfaces such as sheet materials and textile fabrics can be treated at atmospheric pressure if they are passed through narrow slits into a zone where a suitable gas is introduced. We have such a machine from Sigma Technologies International that can be process fabrics, up to 500 mm in width, using various gases in a glow discharge.