Fabrication of transparent easy-clean coating formulations optimised from molecular dynamics simulation

Report on the impact of co-polymerising polyvinyl acetate with polydimethyl siloxane in developing an easy-cleaning coating material.

Symbol image of a microscope in a laboratory environment.
Both simulation and experimental validation has been reported. (Image source: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay). -

Polymer industries are increasingly adopting molecular dynamics simulations for the prediction of targeted properties before going for any material formulation and product development.

In a recent investigation, the impact of co-polymerising poly(vinyl acetate) (PVAc) with poly(dimethyl siloxane) (PDMS) in developing a suitable easy-cleaning polymeric coating material through both simulation and experimental validation has been reported.

Easy-cleaning ability has been assessed

PDMS-g-PVAc with different wt.% of PVAc have been molecularly simulated and easy-cleaning ability has been assessed through estimation of properties such as surface energy, substrate adhesion and transparency. Subsequently, the pre-optimised 20 wt.% PDMS-g-PVAc was synthesised experimentally, coated on a substrate and characterised to validate the simulation estimates based on its thermal, optical and surface behavior.

Interestingly, properties such as glass transition temperature (Tg), transparency and water contact angle (WCA) and transparency of the optimised PDMS-g-PVAc were found in good accordance with the experimental findings. Additionally, the surface coverage of the methyl (−CH3) groups and acetate (−OCOCH3) groups in PDMS-g-PVAc were found to strongly dictate the surface and interfacial properties as confirmed through surface and Al substrate-interaction energy findings.

Alternative material to fluoropolymers

The simulation protocols suggest reliability by displaying close agreements of simulated density, solubility parameter, refractive index and WCA of pristine PDMS and PVAc with the reported experimental values. When compared with poly(tetrafluoroethylene) (PTFE), the optimal non-fluoro based graft copolymer was found to exhibit similar or improved thermal degradation, transparency, surface energy and WCA.

The significance of this work is believed to broaden the usage of the graft copolymer with 20 wt.% PVAc in PDMS (PDMS-g-PVAc) as an alternative material to fluoropolymers for applied as easy-cleaning coatings.

The study has been published in Progress in Organic Coatings, Volume 136, November 2019, 105306.

Image source: Pixabay.

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