20. July 2013   4:19 pm
Khoren Sahagian

Khoren Sahagian

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2175.html

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2175.html

 

It is understood that 99.999% of the universe is in a state of plasma.  The universe is primarily composed of charged species and subatomic particles.  The text book definition of plasma is that it is the 4th state of matter.  I believe that this definition is fundamentally challenged.  Matter originates in plasma and when energy is lost the celestial bodies and cohesive structures that make up our universe are formed.  In this sense plasma is better described as the first state of matter seeing as this is where chemical compounds begin.

 

But why recalibrate our perception of plasma?  Here on Earth most of the industrial plasma (those used to modify material) are employed in the cleaning and activation of surfaces.  Essentially this involves the ablation of weakly bound surface contaminant. But I would categorize this process description as a “4th state” mindset because the tendency is to focus our attention on the solid compounds that originate on the solid and are removed by an energized state of plasma.  While this does occur I feel there is greater accuracy in envisaging plasma as a 1st state of matter putting greater emphasis on the fragments formed in plasma that come down to join the surface.  The precise chemical compounds that are added are what enable adhesive bonding or reaction.  Those species originate in the plasma and form covalent bonds to the substrate after the source of energy is taken away.

 

 

 

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Mikki Larner

Mikki Larner
Vice President Sales & Marketing
Belmont, CA

Editorial July 2013

Giving back to the community personally and professional has always been important. The challenge however is making the time to have an impact. Through my involvement with groups such as AVS, SVEC  and the SPE local chapter, I as well as my colleagues have been able to expose a diverse group of Bay Area kids and young adults to the varied career opportunities in the sciences, specifically surface modification and vacuum technology. One of my favorite events (tied with volunteering at the Maker Faire) is “Expanding your Horizons.” EYH is a not-for-profit organization that “inspires girls to recognize their potential and pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

The following picture is from this year’s most recent event – with their permission of course. They were actively controlling the vacuum pump and chamber to “measure” the effect of a vacuum on a Peep marshmallow.  This is always the highlight of the day…next to the shaving cream experiment!

It is incredibly rewarding to be in a room with curious young girls and expose them to my “life in a vacuum.”

Girls blowing up PEEPs

Girls blowing up PEEPs

 

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2. July 2013   3:18 pm
Dr. K. L. Mittal, Dr. Robert H. Lacombe

Dr. K. L. Mittal, Dr. Robert H. Lacombe

This issue of the SURFACE SCIENCE CORNER blog begins a series of essays dealing with the general topic of the hidden aspects of surfaces that, though generally invisible to us, have an important influence not only on our day to day activities but also on our ability to manufacture common objects of everyday use.

A common example is the polymer materials we use to encapsulate all manner of foodstuffs to protect them from moisture, oxidation and other unwanted atmospheric influences. A typical packaging resin may be quite effective at protecting against unwanted atmospheric invaders but also impossible to label or decorate with commonly available inks. The ability of a given surface to be written on by a given ink is controlled by the surface energy of the polymer and the surface energy of any given material is just one among a host of invisible surface properties.

Thus the underlying thread in all of the discussion will be the fact that although most properties of surfaces may be invisible to us they nonetheless have a rather profound influence on not only our ability to manufacture items of common commerce but our everyday experience as well.

The following is an outline of the topics to be explored in more detail in subsequent issues of the blog:

1. OPTICAL PROPERTIES: What we see is only an infinitesimal fraction of the radiation emitted by surfaces.

2. SURFACE ENERGY: A world that can only be explored through the lens of thermodynamics.

3. SURFACE ANALYSIS METHODS: ESCA, AUGER, TOFF SIMS, EELS, … the alphabet soup of surface analysis techniques that allow us examine surfaces at the atomic level.

4. CONTACT ANGLE: A poor man’s surface analysis tool you can implement in your kitchen and curiously enough turns out to be superior to the high power methods in an interesting way.

5. SURFACE FORCES: Ever wonder why insects and the gecko lizard can walk upside down on your ceiling or nearly any other surface? The surface van der Waals forces are of exceedingly short range but their influence extends to surprisingly large distances.

6. ADHESION: Mostly you find that when two objects come into contact they do not adhere very well. Some materials, however, seem to stick to nearly everything. These behaviors can only be sorted out through an understanding of surface forces and interactions.

7. CONTAMINATION: Surfaces are an invisible refuge for all manner of foreign species and these invaders can alter the surface’s properties in ways both benign and malign. The oil layer on the cylinder walls of your car’s engine is absolutely critical to it’s life and function. That same oil can also prevent you from painting over a bare spot on the fender.

8. TRIBOLOGY AND FRICTION: An invisible property that determines whether things stick or slip or whether your tires will keep you on the road or send you to the gutter.

9. SURFACE MODIFICATION: Getting surfaces to behave the way we want.

10. LIFE ON SURFACES: Microbes are another invisible inhabitant in the world of surfaces and have many important consequences including biofouling of pipes and marine surfaces and also the common infections that can lay us low.

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