Plasma polymerization is an extraordinarily versatile coating technology, that has achieved wide industrial application (embedded within $bns of products pa), remarkably with relatively little acknowledgment of this fact.
Most materials and product formats (sheets, fibres, graphene flakes) can be coated with nanometre precision, and a high degree of control over the physico-chemical properties of the coating. This talk will focus mainly
on the engineering and technological applications in adhesion and bonding of materials, but will touch on broader applications in enabling the convergence of technologies, e.g. bio and nano/micro technologies in lab-on-a-chip devices.
The technology uses the vapour of one or more compounds to form the feed gas. This vapour is electrically excited and polymerization occurs onto any surface in contact with the plasma. The resultant coating can bond strongly with
the substrate (metal, glass, ceramic or polymer) and provide a new surface with tailored properties, e.g. amine/acid groups to react with a resin (matrix) material.
Plasma co-polymerization uses a mixture of the vapours of more than one monomer, usually two. The proportion of each monomer in the feed gas may be varied to increase the variety of plasma polymers that we can produce.
This additional parameter is helpful as it opens up further possibilities to control the chemical and physical properties of the plasma polymer, e.g. tailoring of surface wettability.
Potential or actual technological applications include:
• control of the fibre-resin interface and interphase in composite materials 2
• the convergence of nano/micro technologies with biology (e.g. lab on a chip) 3
• chemical gradients on surfaces 4
• control of cell/protein/biomolecule attachment 5
1 A P Kettle et al, Composites Part A 29A (1998) 241-250
2 C Priest et al, Lab-on-a-Chip , 2011, (3), 541-544
3 D E Robinson et al, Advanced Materials 2008, 20 (6), 1166-1169
4 F Harding et al, Advanced Healthcare Materials 2013, 2 (4), 624-624
Rob studied Chemistry (BSc) and Physical Chemistry (PhD) at the University of Durham (UK) and joined the University of Sheffield in 1988, where until joining the University of South Australia (UniSA) in 2006,
he held the Chair of Material and Biomaterial Chemistry from 2001. During this period, he was a founder Director of two spin-out companies, CellTran Ltd and Plasso Technology. At UniSA he has held the
positions (2006-2015) of Director: Mawson (Research) Institute, Dean: Research of Science and Engineering and Pro Vice Chancellor (Science and Engineering).
He was appointed Director of the Lancaster University Material Science Institute in 2016.
Over the past 20 years Rob has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, won and managed research contracts exceeding A$200M and venture capital of $16.5M. In 1992 he was awarded the
CR Burch Prize (IoP, RSC, UK) for outstanding work in Physical Chemistry for Thin Films or Vacuum. In 2004 he was awarded the UK Society for Biomaterials' second highest prize, the Biocompatibles
Endowed Lecture (for mid-career achievement). He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE) in 2013.
Rob’s primary area of research has been into the processes of plasma polymerization. In materials and engineering, working with Courtalds, BAe, Rolls Royce and DERA (1990-2000) this
technology was developed to control wetting and bonding at interfaces.
In biomaterial science, it has been used to control protein adsorption and cellular attachment. It underpins the development of a bandage that attaches and releases cells into non-healing wounds.
This technology was commercialised in 2000 by the University of Sheffield. The first product, MyskinTM is used clinically to treat burns, scalds and more recently, chronic ulcers. MyskinTM has been
used extensively in the UK (since 2008) for the treatment of severe burns.
Plasso Technology, an advanced surface engineering company developing tailored coatings for surfaces in diagnostics and life science research was formed in 2003. 2007, Plasso Technology was acquired
by BD Biosciences, a leading global medical technology company. PureCoatTM technology is now embedded in a global brand of advanced tissue culture products.