Polyester is a popular class of material used in material engineering. With its 0.4% moisture regain, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is classified as highly hydrophobic, which originates from its lack of polar groups on its backbone. This study used a parallel-plate nonthermal plasma dielectric barrier discharge system operating at medium pressure in dry air and nitrogen (N2) to alter the surface properties of PET fabrics to increase their hydrophilic capabilities. Water contact angle, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) were utilized to analyze any effect from the plasma treatment. The wettability analysis revealed a reduction in the contact angle of more than 80% within 5 min for both discharges. Scanning electron microscopy analysis showed no microscopic damage to the fiber structure, guaranteeing that the fabrics’ structural integrity was preserved after treatment. AFM analysis showed an increase in the nanometer roughness, which was considered beneficial because it increased the total surface area, further increasing the hydrophilic capacity. XPS analysis revealed a sharp increase in the presence of polar functional groups, indicating that the induced surface changes are mostly chemical in nature. Comparing that of untreated fabrics to treated fabrics, a Increase in water absorption capacity was observed for air-treated and N2-treated fabrics, when these fabrics were used immediately after plasma exposure.
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