Polystyrene surfaces are often corona-discharge or plasma treated to oxidize the surface, which enhances the wettability. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), which requires time and an ultra-high vacuum, is generally used to measure this surface oxidation. A rapid, simple method for measuring polystyrene surface oxidation is described. The surface is soaked in a solution of Azure A dye, which adsorbs only to oxidized sites on the polystyrene. The excess dye is flushed away and the bound dye is desorbed with a detergent; an absorbance measurement at 635 nm is used to determine the quantity of desorbed dye. This value correlates with the polystyrene surface oxygen concentration and gives <i>r</i><sup>2</sup> = 0.93.
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