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The Bright Future of Smart Coatings

Sreeparna Das – Mar 15, 2018

The Bright Future of Smart Coatings ‘Smart’ is more than just a buzz word in the coatings industry today. The industry is increasingly getting attracted to new, high performance solutions coming in from the research world. They are not just looking for regular alternatives. And this is enabling the continued emergence of a new generation of multi-functional smart coatings.

An excellent example of commercialization of smart coatings can be seen with Autonomic Materials - the “Self-Healing Company”. Their product series AmpArmor™ has been providing smart protection to multiple substrates from the time it was commercialized in 2016.

Now, with Solvay co-investing in a $3 million round in Autonomic Materials end of 2017, market penetration of this new technology is sure to witness a big boost! And as a consequence, we'll see more innovative solutions finding their way to the market.

Self-healing is only one of the many smart technologies. In fact, all coatings that dynamically respond (as per their functionality) to changes in their environment, are considered “smart”. Other technologies include:

   » Super-hydrophobic / omniphobic 
   » Antimicrobial 
   » Anti-corrosive 
   » Self-cleaning
   » Anti-fogging / de-icing
   » Anti-fouling
   » Electrochromic
   » Self-assembling
   » …

That’s quite a long list! And, all the exciting research activity is contributing to the rapid growth of ‘smart’ world.

Ongoing R&D Making Coatings Smarter

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen some very interesting developments from the R&D world.

Here’s a look at our Top 7:

  1. Self-healing Graphene-based Tough Coatings - Chinese Harbin Institute of Technology

    The Challenge: Combining toughness with Self-healing property

    The Solution: Reinforcing polyvinylalcohol (PVA) with nanosheet of graphene oxide

    Recently graphene-info reported that the team of scientists at Harbin took inspiration from the human skin epidermis and developed a new self-healing tough material.

    • Soft self-healing layer: a mixture of tannic acid and PVA, which form a dynamic hydrogen-bonded network.
    • Tough outer layer: PVA layer containing nanosheets of graphene oxide, which gives greater scratch resistance.

    New Self-healing Tough Material

    "The more dynamic sublayer provides additional polymers to the top layer, while the top hard layer behaves like a barrier to trap these diffusing polymers," the team says.

    On correct integration of the two layers together, the team was able to achieve skin-like hybrid that could self-heal!

  2. Water-repellent Anti-icing Coatings - University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    The Challenge: Ice removal from windshields in winters

    The Solution: Water-repellent coatings on contact surfaces

    Researchers from University of Nebraska-Lincon and Chinese institutions studied the growth of ice on different surfaces. The contact angle (formed where a water droplet meets a solid surface) – determines whether ice will grow along or off the surface.

    • Hydrophilic surface allows water to spread across it at a small contact angle
    • Hydrophobic surface will force droplets to bead up and form a larger angle

    The latter makes ice removal way simpler!

  3. To get ahead with smart coatings, it is important to understand the current development and business opportunities. Mike Clingerman, a senior expert with over 30 year experience in the Coatings, Adhesives & Sealants industry, closely follows developments in smart / functional coatings. And, in his upcoming online course: Smart Coatings’ Latest Opportunities on March, 22nd 2018, he will share:

    • Current updates (from conferences, publications…),
    • Latest strategies to make smart coatings more affordable, and
    • Insights into the next concepts to be commercialized

    Smart Coatings 2017 Opportunities

  4. Gold Nanoparticles Embedded Antimicrobial Coatings – KAUST University

    The Challenge: Inhibiting bacterial growth on dental devices

    The Solution: Smart polymer coatings that changes color and activates natural antimicrobial enzymes to counter bacterial contamination.

    Gold Nanoparticles Embedded Antimicrobial CoatingsResearchers chose gold nanoparticles that have sensitive optical properties. They tuned it to detect specific biomolecular interactions. The nanoparticles were dispersed in the polymer using nanofillers, which ensures minimum leaching.

    This gold-silica complex usually emits glowing, red fluorescent light. When in contact with bacteria the complex gets ripped apart, causing the:

    • Fluorescence to switch off (enabling the color change)
    • Antibacterial cargo to be released

    The researchers say that the process of coatings is simple. They are also looking to improve the technology to enable use in other medical devices.

  5. >>Read on to know more updates from the research world, smart coatings market drivers and challenges, key players and what the future holds (a peek into 2021)!

1 Comments on "The Bright Future of Smart Coatings"
Gopeenathan P chirukandoth N Aug 26, 2017
Really interesting article, I would like pursue further on this type of coating

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