An apparatus and method for enhancing the surface energy and/or surface chemistry of carbon fibers involves exposing the fibers to direct or indirect contact with atmospheric pressure plasma generated using a background gas containing at least some oxygen or other reactive species. The fiber may be exposed directly to the plasma, provided that the plasma is nonfilamentary, or the fiber may be exposed indirectly through contact with gases exhausting from a plasma discharge maintained in a separate volume. In either case, the process is carried out at or near atmospheric pressure, thereby eliminating the need for vacuum equipment. The process may be further modified by moistening the fibers with selected oxygen-containing liquids before exposure to the plasma.
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.