Portuguese and Dutch researchers have created the first practical coating with a surface capable of repairing itself after suffering an injury.Among the applications of the new technology are mobile phones that never stains on fingers, cars that do not need to be washed and inks that will last much longer.So-called functional coatings – for example, water-resistant or antibacterial – have Nano molecular groups on its surface that provide these properties.
The problem is that these molecular groups are easily and irreversibly damaged at the slightest impact – as a risk or a scratch – making the coating quickly lose their properties.This has been a major limitation for these coatings to reach the market.
Tamara Dikic and colleagues at Eindhoven University of Technology have found a solution to this problem.
The staff put the functional chemical groups at the end of “stalk” flexible, and all mixed into the batter coating.
When the surface of the coating is damaged, the layer below the surface releases their stems pointing up its active molecules and restoring the functionality of the material even scratched.
This ability to autorreparo should give long life to materials and self-cleaning coatings waterproof.
Dr. Catherine Esteves, team coordinator, says that the new technique will allow the manufacture of paints that will keep a car totally clean without soap and mop without: water droplets escorrerão the hydrophobic surface, taking with them the dirt particles.Similarly, products such as mobile phones, solar panels and even aircraft, remain clean for much longer.
The researcher says it is now working with other universities and with industrial partners, in order to put the material on the market, which it estimates to happen in the next six to eight years.