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Long-Lasting Antifog Plasma Modification of Transparent Plastics

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posted on 2014-10-08, 00:00 authored by Rosa Di Mundo, Riccardo d’Agostino, Fabio Palumbo
Antifog surfaces are necessary for any application requiring optical efficiency of transparent materials. Surface modification methods aimed toward increasing solid surface energy, even when supposed to be permanent, in fact result in a nondurable effect due to the instability in air of highly hydrophilic surfaces. We propose the strategy of combining a hydrophilic chemistry with a nanotextured topography, to tailor a long-lasting antifog modification on commercial transparent plastics. In particular, we investigated a two-step process consisting of self-masked plasma etching followed by plasma deposition of a silicon-based film. We show that the deposition of the silicon-based coatings on the flat (pristine) substrates allows a continuous variation of wettability from hydrophobic to superhydrophilic, due to a continuous reduction of carbon-containing groups, as assessed by Fourier transform infrared and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopies. By depositing these different coatings on previously nanotextured substrates, the surface wettability behavior is changed consistently, as well as the condensation phenomenon in terms of microdroplets/liquid film appearance. This variation is correlated with advancing and receding water contact angle features of the surfaces. More importantly, in the case of the superhydrophilic coating, though its surface energy decreases with time, when a nanotextured surface underlies it, the wetting behavior is maintained durably superhydrophilic, thus durably antifog.