A plasma processing system includes a source of plasma, a substrate and a shutter positioned in close proximity to the substrate. The substrate/shutter relative disposition is changed for precise control of substrate/plasma interaction. This way, the substrate interacts only with a fully established, stable plasma for short times required for nanoscale processing of materials. The shutter includes an opening of a predetermined width, and preferably is patterned to form an array of slits with dimensions that are smaller than the Debye screening length. This enables control of the substrate/plasma interaction time while avoiding the ion bombardment of the substrate in an undesirable fashion. The relative disposition between the shutter and the substrate can be made either by moving the shutter or by moving the substrate.