Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 441–458 | Cite as

Where physics meets chemistry: Thin film deposition from reactive plasmas

  • Andrew Michelmore
  • Jason D. Whittle
  • James W. Bradley
  • Robert D. Short
Review Article


Functionalising surfaces using polymeric thin films is an industrially important field. One technique for achieving nanoscale, controlled surface functionalization is plasma deposition. Plasma deposition has advantages over other surface engineering processes, including that it is solvent free, substrate and geometry independent, and the surface properties of the film can be designed by judicious choice of precursor and plasma conditions. Despite the utility of this method, the mechanisms of plasma polymer growth are generally unknown, and are usually described by chemical (i.e., radical) pathways. In this review, we aim to show that plasma physics drives the chemistry of the plasma phase, and surface-plasma interactions. For example, we show that ionic species can react in the plasma to form larger ions, and also arrive at surfaces with energies greater than 1000 kJ∙mol–1 (>10 eV) and thus facilitate surface reactions that have not been taken into account previously. Thus, improving thin film deposition processes requires an understanding of both physical and chemical processes in plasma.


thin films plasma physics plasma chemistry functionalization polymer 


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© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EngineeringUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakesAustralia
  2. 2.Future Industries InstituteUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakesAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Electrical Engineering and ElectronicsUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  4. 4.Material Science InstituteLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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