An apparatus for treating polymeric materials comprises a treatment chamber adapted to maintain a selected atmosphere; a means for supporting the polymeric material within the chamber; and, a source of plasma-derived gas containing at least one reactive oxidative species whereby the polymer is stabilized and cross linked through exposure to the oxidative species in the chamber at a selected temperature. The polymer may be directly exposed to the plasma, or alternatively, the plasma may be established in a separate volume from which the reactive species may be extracted and introduced into the vicinity of the polymer. The apparatus may be configured for either batch-type or continuous-type processing. The apparatus and method are especially useful for preparing polymer fibers, particularly PAN fibers, for later carbonization treatments.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-000122725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to UT-Battelle, LLC, and the Government has certain rights in this invention.