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4th State, Inc.

 

The 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 material.

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 small firms.

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 SURFACE ENGINEERING

  • 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 permanency.

 

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. 

SUMMARY

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 material.

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.

 

 



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