This work reveals a versatile new method to produce films with antimicrobial properties that can also bond materials together with robust tensile adhesive strength. Specifically, we demonstrate the formation of coatings by using a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma to convert a liquid small-molecule precursor, m-cresol, to a solid film via plasma-assisted on-surface polymerisation. The films are quite appealing from a sustainability perspective: they are produced using a low-energy process and from a molecule produced in abundance as a by-product of coal tar processing. This process consumes only 1.5 Wh of electricity to create a 1 cm2 film, which is much lower than other methods commonly used for film deposition, such as chemical vapour deposition (CVD). Plasma treatments were performed in plain air without the need for any carrier or precursor gas, with a variety of exposure durations. By varying the plasma parameters, it is possible to modify both the adhesive property of the film, which is at a maximum at a 1 min plasma exposure, and the antimicrobial property of the film against Escherichia coli, which is at a maximum at a 30 s exposure.
- Design, synthesis and processing
- Surfaces, interfaces and thin films