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Use of low-level plasma for enhancing the shrink resistance of wool fabric treated with a silicone polymer
journal contributionposted on 2011-11-01, 00:00 authored by Maryam NaebeMaryam Naebe, Peter Cookson, R Denning, Xungai WangXungai Wang
This study examines the effects of an atmospheric pressure plasma (APP) pre-treatment on the shrink resistance of wool fabric treated subsequently, by the pad/dry method, with an aqueous emulsion of the amino-functional polydimethylsiloxane, SM 8709. Optimal shrink resistance (with no impairment of fabric handle) was obtained after a low-level plasma treatment (1-3 s exposure time), using 5% of the polymer emulsion. Higher levels of silicone polymer could be used to achieve shrink resistance in the absence of a plasma pre-treatment, but the fabric handle would be adversely affected. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) studies showed that the bulk of the covalently bound surface lipid layer was removed after a plasma exposure time of 30 s. For treatment times of 3 s or less, however, the removal was incomplete, suggesting that optimum shrink resistance (after treatment with the silicone polymer) was associated with the modification of the surface layer rather than its complete destruction. Scanning electron micrographs (SEMs) revealed that the plasma pre-treatment did not lead to any physical modifications (such as smoothening of the scale edges), even for long exposure times, and had no significant impact on the extent or nature of the inter-fibre bonding of the polymer. Confocal microscopy showed uniform spread of polymer on single fibres. It is concluded that the main impact of the plasma pre-treatment was to enhance the distribution of polymer both on and between fibres and to improve adhesion of polymer to the fibre.