From Basics to Frontiers: A Comprehensive Review of Plasma-Modified and Plasma-Synthesized Polymer Films
This comprehensive review begins by tracing the historical development and progress of cold plasma technology as an innovative approach to polymer engineering. The study emphasizes the versatility of cold plasma derived from a variety of sources including low-pressure glow discharges (e.g., radiofrequency capacitively coupled plasmas) and atmospheric pressure plasmas (e.g., dielectric barrier devices, piezoelectric plasmas). It critically examines key operational parameters such as reduced electric field, pressure, discharge type, gas type and flow rate, substrate temperature, gap, and how these variables affect the properties of the synthesized or modified polymers. This review also discusses the application of cold plasma in polymer surface modification, underscoring how changes in surface properties (e.g., wettability, adhesion, biocompatibility) can be achieved by controlling various surface processes (etching, roughening, crosslinking, functionalization, crystallinity). A detailed examination of Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD) reveals its efficacy in producing thin polymeric films from an array of precursors. Yasuda&rsquo;s models, Rapid Step-Growth Polymerization (RSGP) and Competitive Ablation Polymerization (CAP), are explained as fundamental mechanisms underpinning plasma-assisted deposition and polymerization processes. Then, the wide array of applications of cold plasma technology is explored, from the biomedical field, where it is used in creating smart drug delivery systems and biodegradable polymer implants, to its role in enhancing the performance of membrane-based filtration systems crucial for water purification, gas separation, and energy production. It investigates the potential for improving the properties of bioplastics and the exciting prospects for developing self-healing materials using this technology.