A method for continuously processing carbon fiber including establishing a microwave plasma in a selected atmosphere contained in an elongated chamber having a microwave power gradient along its length defined by a lower microwave power at one end and a higher microwave power at the opposite end of the elongated chamber. The elongated chamber having an opening in each of the ends of the chamber that are adapted to allow the passage of the fiber tow while limiting incidental gas flow into or out of said chamber. A continuous fiber tow is introduced into the end of the chamber having the lower microwave power. The fiber tow is withdrawn from the opposite end of the chamber having the higher microwave power. The fiber to is subjected to progressively higher microwave energy as the fiber is being traversed through the elongated chamber.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to UT-Battelle, LLC, and the Government has certain rights in this invention.