Sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆) plasma treatment of medical grade poly(methyl methacrylate)

Zanini, Stefano, Papagni, Antonio, Vaghi, Luca, Thatti, Baljit Kaur, Barton, Stephen, Williams, Neil, Shokri, Navid and Riccardi, Claudia (2020) Sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆) plasma treatment of medical grade poly(methyl methacrylate). Coatings, 10(2), p. 135. ISSN (online) 2079-6412


Medical-grade poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) is widely employed in the fabrication of intraocular lenses (IOLs), but suffers from opacification, a postoperative complication that leads to the failure of the implanted intraocular lenses. The opacification occurs when inorganic-based deposits accumulate on the surface of the IOL and are prevalent in hydrophilic materials. Here, the surface of medical-grade PMMA has been fluorinated by sulphur hexafluoride (SF₆) plasma treatment to increase surface hydrophobicity thus improving the material lifetime in optical applications. Hydrophobic properties of the treated PMMA were investigated by means of contact angle measurements, while chemical modification was assessed by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR/FTIR) spectroscopy. Surface morphological changes due to possible etching effects were investigated by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). The transparency of the treated PMMA was assessed by UV/VIS spectroscopy. Finally, the influence of the plasma treatment on the inorganic salts deposition was investigated by immersion in Simulated Aqueous Humour (SAH), followed by XPS analysis. The modified samples showed less deposition on the surface than the unmodified sample, moreover, a decrease of the transmittance in the UV-violet range (300–430 nm) was detected, open the possibility of interesting applications of this treatment for the creation of a UV filter in ophthalmic optical devices.

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