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Novel method for making Teflon® and other fluoropolymers hydrophilic

Country of origin:
Country: 
SLOVENIA
Opportunity:
External Id: 
TOSI20191007001
Published
07/10/2019
Last update
15/10/2019
Expiration date
15/10/2020

Keywords

Partner keyword: 
Surface treatment (painting, galvano, polishing, CVD, ..)
Microengineering and nanoengineering
Adhesives
Plastics, Polymers
Housewares
Commodity chemicals and polymers
Polymer (plastics) materials
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Summary

Summary: 
A Slovenian research institute has developed a novel method for surface treatment of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Teflon®) and other fluorinated polymers, which significantly improves wettability of the surface from highly hydrophobic to highly hydrophilic. The institute is looking for producers of PTFE products and other fluoropolymeric products for license agreement.

Description

Description: 

The wettability of polymer surfaces is an important consideration in some applications, for example where adhesion to the polymer surface is needed, such as when paint or functional coatings are applied to polymer substrates, or glue is used to stick a polymer substrate to something else. It may therefore be desirable to modify the polymer substrate surface.
Several methods for modification of polymer wettability have been reported. These include treatment with aggressive liquids, plasma and reactive gases. An already used method is treatment of polymer materials with gaseous plasma. A technological challenge, however, is formation of oxygen-rich functional groups on the surface of a fluorinated polymer. Currently used plasma treatment methods lead to etching rather than to functionalization of fluorine containing polymers with oxygen-rich functional groups.

A Slovenian research institute offers a novel method for modification of surface wettability of fluorine-containing polymers by a sequential two-step treatment.
The method is rapid and enables treatment of fluorine-containing polymers of almost any shape and size including ‘infinite’ materials such as foils. The wettability of objects made from, or containing, fluorine-containing polymers treated according to the methods of invention is close to the theoretical limit for smooth polymers – with this method a 20° water contact angle was achieved.
A surface finish with the novel method is stable and assures for long-lasting hydrophilicity of otherwise hydrophobic polymers. Unlike conventional treatment of fluorine-containing polymers with oxygen plasma, the novel method does not produce hazardous gases such as oxy- or peroxy-fluorinated carbon compounds.

The surface treatment method has been validated in the laboratory. Additionally, a device for surface treatment of fluorinated polymers in a batch or continuous mode has been developed.

The technology has been developed at the Slovenian research institute. The research group comprises experts in the field of surface treatment with emphasis on plasma technologies, thin films and vacuum science and have numerous experience in cooperation with industry.
The institute is looking for producers of PTFE products (cookware, plain bearings, gears, slide plates, seals, gaskets, bushings, wiring in aerospace and computer applications, etc.) and other fluoropolymeric products. The industrial partners are expected to enter license agreements with aim of implementation of the developed method in their production line.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
• The wettability of fluorinated polymers treated with novel method is close to the theoretical limit for smooth polymers (20° water angle contact); • The method is fast and amenable to scale up, and enables continuous processing; • There is no measurable production of hazardous or harmful byproducts; • The method is energetically efficient and can be fully automated.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Available for demonstration

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
Type of partner sought: Producers of PTFE products (cookware, plain bearings, gears, slide plates, seals, gaskets, bushings, wiring in aerospace and computer applications, etc.) and other fluoropolymer products. Role of partner sought: Implementation of the developed method in their production line.