Fourth State of Matter
When energy is applied to a solid, it becomes
a liquid. Apply more energy to a liquid and it becomes a gas. If further energy is applied
to a gas, it then becomes a plasma.
When used for surface treatment and critical
cleaning applications, ions and electrons in the plasma react with the surface of
materials placed within the plasma chamber. The result is a complete removal of organic
contamination, and on polymers, a permanent chemical modification of the surface. Reactive
chemical functionalities may be imparted to the surface resulting in a dramatic increase
in bond strength and other properties, without affecting the bulk properties of the
4th State is focused on bringing
you the plasma advantage. Our scientists and engineers have
been responsible for numerous advances in this technology and
have developed solutions for Fortune 500 companies as well as
4th State offers both Process
Development and Plasma Treatment Services.4th State can advise
you on specific plasma issues, and develop and install a full-scale
plasma process system tailored to your requirements.
BENEFITS OF PLASMA
- Better Performance- Plasma
processing delivers superior performance. Alternatives such as wet chemical etching,
abrasion, flame, and corona cannot deliver the consistent quality of plasma.
- Cost Effective- Plasma treating
can be your most cost-effective choice. System operational costs are minimal, and high
disposal costs associated with hazardous processes are eliminated.
- Environmentally and Workplace-Safe-
Plasma processing has no detrimental impact on the environment. EPA compliance is not an
issue, and operators are not exposed to hazardous processes.
TYPES OF PROCESSES
Cleaning- Inert and oxygen
plasmas are ideal for cleaning. The plasma cleaning process removes, via ablation,
organic contaminates such as cutting oil, skin oils, mold releases, et cetera on the
surface of most industrial materials. These surface contaminants undergo repetitive
chain scission under the influence of ions, free radicals and electrons of the plasma
until their molecular weight is sufficiently low to boil away in the vacuum. To
obtain molecular cleanliness there is not a more effective method than plasma.
Activation- When a polymer or elastomer is treated in an inert gas or a non-carbon
containing gas such as oxygen, ammonia or nitrous oxide to name few, the primary
result is the incorporation of different moieties of the process gas onto the surface of
the material being treated. For example, the surface of polyethylene normally
consists solely of carbon and hydrogen; however, in an appropriate plasma the surface may
be "activated" to contain a variety of functional groups including but not
limited to hydroxyl, carbonyl, peroxyl, carboxylic, amino and amines. Almost any
polymer or elastomer surface may be modified providing chemical functionality to specific
adhesives or coatings thus significantly enhancing the adhesion characteristics and
Deposition- When a more complex molecule is employed as the process gas, a process
known as plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) may result. For
instance, if carbon tetrafluoride is employed the gas may undergo fragmentation in the
plasma then react with itself to combine into a polymer. By the judicious selection
of process conditions, chemically unique pin-hole free films may be deposited onto the
surface of the materials within the plasma reactor.
Although plasma processing has become a routine and critical
step in the fabrication of semiconductor devices, plasma remains a powerful, yet largely
unexploited technology. Plasma offers companies in virtually any manufacturing sector the
opportunity to gain a major competitive advantage.
Gas plasma - the fourth state of matter - provides industry with
an environmentally clean and workplace-safe method to modify or clean the surface of any
By using plasma processes, the product designer is free to
choose the material best suited for the end use by its physical properties and cost, then
modify only the surface for optimum performance in its application-without compromising
the properties of the bulk material.
Plasma processing is not a single technology. Think of it as a
"toolbox" of technologies which can provide surface solutions to a wide range of
materials and applications.