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Friday, 20 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies, Functional coatings

Coating technology enables self-cleaning properties

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have developed special surfaces that remain clean or repair themselves.

Superficial scratches could be self-repaired, using the new coating technology

Source: Nanoresins

Superficial scratches could be self-repaired, using the new coating technology

Source: Nanoresins

At Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), researchers have developed a new coating technology that could enable self-cleaning cars or self-repairing lenses. Their solution for functional coatings is based on surfaces with special "stalks” that carry the functional chemical groups at their ends and mix these through the coating.

Functional coatings, for example with highly water-resistant or antibacterial properties, have nano-sized molecular groups at their surface that provide these specific properties. But up to now, these molecular groups are easily and irreversibly damaged by minor contact with their surface (such as by scratching), quickly causing their properties to be lost. This has been a big limitation to the possible applications of these coatings.

Problem solution with special "stalks"

Researcher Catarina Esteves and her colleagues have now found a solution to this problem. They have done this by developing surfaces with special "stalks” carrying the functional chemical groups at their ends, and mixing these through the coating. If the outer surface layer is removed by scratching, the "stalks” in the underlying layer re-orient to the new surface, thereby restoring the function.

This development can be of great importance for many applications. For example it will be possible to make a self-cleaning car, with a highly water-resistant coating that keeps this self-cleaning property for long periods. The superficial scratches will be self-repaired and the water droplets simply roll off the car, taking dirt with them. An occasional rain shower is all that is needed to keep the car clean. In the same way, products like mobile phones, solar panels or even aircraft will remain clean for a longer time. Other applications are contact lenses that self-repair their scratches, and coatings that resist the formation of algae, which is an advantage for ships. A limitation of the new technology is that it only works with superficial scratches that do not completely penetrate the coating.

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