Hardness is an important parameter in many industrial applications of polymers. The improvements in hardness provided by ion implantation are the result of structural transformations in a thin modified surface layer of the polymer. The surface layer of a hydrocarbon polymer becomes highly carbonized. The structure of the carbon layer depends on the ion fluence and ion energy used: high energies and high fluences form graphite-like structures with a high concentration of crosslinks between graphitic planes. The thickness of this layer is typically close to the ion penetration depth. Hardness increases are observed for various kinds of polymers from polyethylene and polyamide to polyester and polyurethane. Examples of polymer devices ...

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