Plasma Supported Deposition of Amorphous Hydrogenated Carbon (a-C:H) on Polyamide 6: Determining Interlayer Completion and Dehydrogenation Effects during Layer Growth

Polymers (Basel). 2021 Jun 6;13(11):1886. doi: 10.3390/polym13111886.


Polyamide 6 (PA6) is a commonly used material in many different sectors of modern industry. Herein, PA6 samples were coated with amorphous carbon layers (a-C:H) with increasing thickness up to 2 µm using radio frequency plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition for surface adjustment. The morphology of the carbon coatings was inspected by ex situ atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Surface wettability was checked by contact angle measurements. The chemical composition was analyzed using the surface sensitive synchrotron X-ray-based techniques near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, supported by diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy. Particular attention was paid to the coating interval from 0 to 100 nm, to specify the interlayer thickness between the PA6 polymer and a-C:H coating, and the region between 1000 and 2000 nm, where dehydrogenation of the a-C:H layer occurs. The interlayer is decisive for the linkage of the deposited carbon layer on the polymer: the more pronounced it is, the better the adhesion. The thickness of the interlayer could be narrowed down to 40 nm in all used methods, and the dehydrogenation process takes place at a layer thickness of 1500 nm.

Keywords: PECVD plasma coating; a-C:H polymer interlayer; gradual film deposition; synchrotron radiation; wettability.