The effect of oxygen plasma treatment on adhesion and surface properties of polypropylene (PP) was assessed. An oxygen rich modified PP layer, immiscible with bulk PP, was formed by the treatment. Contact angle measurements showed that macromolecular motions led with time to rearrangements of the surface layer drastically decreasing its wettability, while its composition, measured by XPS, remained unaffected.
The shear strength of PP-epoxy joints increased after plasma treatment. The locus of failure was found to occur at the PP/epoxy interface for untreated PP, within PP in the case of oxygen-plasma-treated samples, close to the modified PP/bulk PP interface. This result suggests that the plasma treament improves the interaction at the PP/epoxy interface, but weakens the mechanical strength of the surface layer thereby creating a weak point at the modified PP/bulk PP interface.