Coatings technology: are biomimetics the new trend?


As usual, we will at ECS Conference 2017 again be asking attendees to participate in a survey of the most important technologies. Last year, water-borne coating systems and functional coatings came out on top. Would you agree that these are the most important technologies or do you lean more towards bio-based coatings or those which mimic nature? One German paint manufacturer recently launched a water-repellent masonry paint whose micro-textured surface is adept at draining water, especially condensation. This exterior paint is capable of keeping facades clean and dry, without the need for a protective biocidal coating, and was inspired by fog-basking beetles. It could therefore be classed as a biomimetic product.

Mimicking nature’s coating and adhesive mechanisms

Other examples of biomimetic products are adhesives whose mechanisms emulate how geckoes and mussels cling to surfaces. The latter served as the role model for the development of a functional coating on steel in the Laboratory of Macromolecular Photochemistry and Engineering at the University of Haute-Alsace, in Mülheim, France, where researchers were studying the light-initiated polymerisation of dopamine following a photo-induced rise in pH. When an aqueous solution of quaternary ammonium salts of phenylglyoxylic acid, acting as photo-based generators, is irradiated, a strong base is released and the pH rises substantially. This triggers the polymerisation of dopamine and so paves the way for on-demand formation of highly adhesive coatings on steel.

Biomimetics seems to be on the rise in paint technology. Could this be a major trend at the ECS 2017?

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