Cosi: Where chemists talk about feelings

The Coatings Science International (Cosi) conference in Nordwijk, Netherlands, is always a good barometer of current trends in the academic coatings community. This year, human psychology and perception played an important role at what is usually a highly chemistry-based event.

Impressions from the Coatings Science International Conference in Nordwjik -

The Cosi conference has always addressed functional coatings. While this was true this time around as well, the emphasis wasn’t on any so-called typical functionalities, such as easy-to-clean or anti-ice. This year there were multiple talks on the tactile properties of coatings. This topic was introduced by Prof. Mark Ruthland from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

He described the challenges involved in developing an understanding of tactile properties and how they can be linked to the mechanical and chemical characteristics of surfaces. Tactile properties are a lot harder to understand, for example, than colours. One of the challenges that makes tactile perception more difficult is the detection and identification of a stimulus in the first place. Also, he continued, the relationship between a physical parameter and its perception is often not linear.

The topic has already come to the notice of industry, as Matthew Gebhard from DSM showed in a further presentation on tactile properties. DSM is already trying to quantify human perception by utilising Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA), a sensory evaluation technique developed by the food industry in the 1970s. This external assistance was required because developing these parameters is not really something that chemists learn about. DSM has identified seven tactile and two optical parameters that are rated by at least ten trained test persons.

Homework for the mobility of tomorrow

Coatings innovation award

Tommy Haraldsson of Mercene Labs receives the innovation award for developing a synthetic microfluid paper for lateral flow arrays. The price was handed over by Catarina Esteves, Associate Professor at Eindhoven University and Co-Chair of the organising committee. (Photo: Jan Gesthuizen)

Mark Nichols from Ford Research issued homework to the attending coatings experts. Ford, like more or less all car makers, is investing heavily in the development of autonomous cars. Most people probably think that this is an IT issue that might be in some way related to artificial intelligence (AI). However, the computer that will drive us around in the future will have no eyes and will rely on a vast amount of sensory data that is collected in real time on journeys. Some of these sensors are regular cameras that operate in the visible light spectrum, others are LIDAR systems that utilise a 905 nm laser. Ford therefore needs coatings that possess several functional properties. For instance, its objective of having vehicles travelling on the roads without any humans on board, e.g. in logistics, means that there will be no one around to clean the sensors’ surfaces. Consequently, there is a huge need of surfaces that will minimise the frequency of cleaning needed. Not only that, but the surfaces to be cleaned will have to be easy to clean and rugged enough not to be damaged by the cleaning process.

Synthetic paper and x-ray

As always, the conference honoured those presentations, which had a special impact on the coatings community. The award for the best innovation went to Tomy Haraldsson who is one of the founders of Mercene Labs, a start-up company from Stockholm, Sweden. His company has developed a synthetic microfluid paper consisting of slanted and interlocked micropillars. They can serve as a porous substrate in microfluidics and lateral flow arrays. The goal of the new synthetic paper is to replace standard cellulose in such arrays. Unlike normal cellulose, its surface and structural properties remain consistent from batch to batch. Thanks to its well-defined structure, it has the potential to be used not only in qualitative but also in quantitative paper assays.

Science Award Coatings

Stephan Roth from the Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology received the Science Award. He developed an x-ray in-situ and real time measurement of the nanostructuring of spray coatings. (Photo: Jan Gesthuizen)

The new material is produced by multidirectional UV lithography in off-stoichiometry thiol-ene. This polymer system offers excellent surface control because it has inherently available functional groups on its surface.

The prize for the most scientific contribution went to Prof. Stephan Roth from the Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He has developed an in situ, real-time x-ray method for studying the surface nanostructuring of functional spray coatings.

One example which he gave concerned the investigation of colloidal structuring during the coating and drying process and how the x-ray measurement was able to help to eliminate the so called coffee-ring effect. 

A more comprehensive review on the Cosi 2017 will be published in the next issue of the European Coatings Journal. To receive your own personal copy you can subscribe for the magazine.

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