Atmospheric pressure plasma treatment of wool fabric, with a relatively short exposure time, effectively removed the covalently bonded lipid layer from the wool surface. The plasma-treated fabric showed increased wettability and the fibres showed greater roughness. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis showed a much more hydrophilic surface with significant increases in oxygen and nitrogen concentrations and a decrease in carbon concentration. Adhesion, as measured by scanning probe microscopy (SPM) force volume analysis, also increased, consistent with the more hydrophilic surface leading to a greater meniscus force on the SPM probe. The ageing of fibres from the plasma-treated fabric was assessed over a period of 28 days. While no physical changes were observed, the chemical nature of the surface changed significantly. XPS showed a decrease in the hydrophilic nature of the surface with time, consistent with the measured decrease in wettability. This change is proposed to be due to the reorientation of proteolipid chains. SPM adhesion studies also showed the surface to be changing with time. After ageing for 28 days, the plasma-treated surface was relatively stable and still dramatically different from the untreated fibre, suggesting that the oxidation of the surface and modification or removal of the lipid layer were permanent.
Field of Research
030606 Structural Chemistry and Spectroscopy
Socio Economic Objective
970103 Expanding Knowledge in the Chemical Sciences