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Plasma species that form plasma polymer deposits readily penetrate through small openings and are therefore well suited to coat the interior of porous objects. Here, we show how the size of the cross section of square channels influences the penetration of active species from a hexane plasma and how it affects the formation of surface chemical gradients in the interior of these model pores. WCA mapping and ToF-SIMS imaging are used to visualize the plasma polymer deposit in the interior of the model pores and demonstrate that a strong dependence of the wettability gradient profile only exists up to a channel cross section of about 1 mm. XPS data allow us to calculate a deposition rate of plasma polymerized hexane (ppHex) at discrete positions on the surface and show that the deposition rate of ppHex is reduced by the presence of the mask up to a distance of 16 mm in advance of the channel opening. A strong dependence of the ppHex deposition rate on the cross-section of the channels is found within the first 2 mm in front of the pore opening. An estimation of the sheath thickness suggests that this effect can be attributed to the plasma sheath that perturbs the plasma in front of the pores. Plasma mass spectrometry allows us to identify the nature of the plasma species penetrating from the plasma through the pores and shows that no negatively charged ions are able to penetrate through the small channels. Neutral and positively charged species penetrate several millimeters down the channels and both species are therefore likely to contribute to the formation of the deposit on the sample. In addition, the formation of positively charged higher molecular mass hexane fragments is observed in the gas phase, demonstrating the likelihood of neutral-positive reactions in the plasma.
- physical chemistry