Guide for new business and research ideas

6 Presentation of the 30 project ideas in template

6.10 Atmospheric Plasma for surface functionalization of textiles for biomedical applications



Title of the project


Atmospheric Plasma for surface functionalization of textiles for biomedical applications

Envisaged Program for funding / other sources for funding



Domain of interest




(up to 500 words)

In recent years, plasma technology has assumed a great importance among all available textile surface modifications processes. It is a dry, environmentally- and worker-friendly method to achieve surface alteration without modifies the bulk properties of different materials. In particular, non-thermal plasmas are particularly suited because most textile materials are heat sensitive polymers. Moreover, this technology is compatible with continuum, on-line processing. Among non-thermal plasma technologies, atmospheric plasma is an alternative and cost-competitive method to low-pressure plasma and wet chemical treatments, avoiding the need of expensive vacuum equipment and allowing continuous and uniform processing of fibers surfaces. The dielectric barrier discharge technology (DBD) in air is one of the most effective non-thermal atmospheric plasma sources and has been attracting increasing interest for industrial applications due to its scalability to very large systems. This and its high discharge power make it an interesting candidate for plasma-chemical synthesis and large-scale surface modification of medically important polymers. A number of textile materials have been modified with antimicrobial polymers such as chitosan or its derivatives, and excellent antibacterial activity and good mechanical properties after the treatment of cotton, silk, nylon, PET, and nonwoven polypropylene fabrics have been reported. However, the production costs remain high and despite its high industrial potential there is currently little published work on the plasma processing of chitosan by DBD in textiles.

Thus, the main objective and innovation of this project is to produce cost-competitive and industrially upscalable antimicrobial woven and non-woven textiles by Double Barrier Dielectric Discharge (DBD) atmospheric plasma modification and deposition of antimicrobial polymers and nanoparticles. As specific objectives, the project aims at developing: (i) the modification of various woven and non-woven textiles by DBD using different non-polymerizing gases (air, Ar, He, N2, O2), hydrocarbon, fluorocarbon and organosilicon precursors; (ii) the DBD promoted covalent grafting of antimicrobial polymers such as chitin, chitosan and soluble chitosan derivatives in textiles to achieve nontoxic, biocompatible, antifungal and antibacterial medical fabrics; (iii) Developing sol–gel or polymer matrix deposition of functionalized silica, silver, copper, titanium or zinc oxide nanoparticles in order to confer antimicrobial surfaces.

An important advantage of this type of antimicrobial textiles produced with DBD plasma technology is the possibility of generates strong chemical bonding between textile substrate and active agents enhancing their durability against repeated laundering. Overall, the use of DBD plasma technology for the antimicrobial coating on textiles in the project will provide an ideal solution to the usually contradictory issues encountered in the production of medical textiles: achieve high quality, high productivity, low cost and environmentally clean surface treatment processes, without changing the physical and mechanical properties of the bulk materials. The antimicrobial textiles produced by DBD plasma technology are a step beyond the current state-of-the-art and will avoid the major side-effects of the most diffuse antimicrobial textile, such as low release and penetration levels.

Keywords (up to 5)


Plasma, textile, coating, nanoparticles, chitosan

Envisaged partners sought





Contact data

(Name/Surname, Organization, email)

Andrea Zille, University of Minho,