Plasma polymerisation is a technique for modifying the surfaces of materials by adding a thin film which possesses specific functional groups. This technique can produce alkanes, alcohols, acids, amine thiols, PEO-like and fluorocarbons. These functional films can vary the chemistry, charge and wettability of surfaces in addition to how they interact with various biological molecules such as proteins, cells and bacteria.
Plasma is produced by a glow discharge through an organic vapour. This is fragmented using radio frequency. The thickness, structure and surface functionalities of the film can be controlled by varying the plasma power, flow rate and deposition time.
Swinburne has six custom made plasma reactors, each designated for particular surface chemistries or applications. One of the reactors is heated, to enable the vaporisation of monomers with low volatility.