SCIP: a new simultaneous vapor phase coating and infiltration process for tougher and UV-resistant polymer fibers†
The physical properties of polymers can be significantly altered by blending them with inorganic components. This can be done during the polymerization process, but also by post-processing of already shaped materials, for example through coating by atomic layer deposition (ALD) or hybridizing through vapor phase infiltration (VPI), both of which are beneficial in their own way. Here, a new processing strategy is presented, which allows distinct control of the coating and infiltration. The process is a hybrid VPI and ALD process, allowing separate control of infiltrated and coated components. This new simultaneous vapor phase coating and infiltration process (SCIP) enhances the degrees of freedom for optimizing the properties of polymers, as shown on the example of Kevlar 29 fibers. The SCIP treated fibers show an increase of 17% of their modulus of toughness (MOT) in comparison to native Kevlar, through the nanoscale coating with alumina. At the same time their intrinsic sensitivity to 24 hours UV-irradiation was completely suppressed through another infiltrated material, zinc oxide, which absorbs the UV irradiation in the subsurface area of the fibers.