Self-healing polymer coatings may soon make car scratches history

December 10th, 2008 - 4:02 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 10 (ANI): Even a small scratch on your brand new car can leave you heartbroken, however, with self-healing coatings for surfaces, scrapes will become history, claim researchers behind the development.

The new coatings, which have been developed at the University of Illinois, are designed to protect materials from the effects of environmental exposure.

And the applications of such coatings range from automotive paints and marine varnishes to the thick, rubbery coatings on patio furniture and park benches.

“Starting from our earlier work on self-healing materials at the U. of I., we have now created self-healing coatings that automatically repair themselves and prevent corrosion of the underlying substrate,” said Paul Braun, a University Scholar and professor of materials science and engineering.

For making self-repairing coatings, the researchers first encapsulated a catalyst into spheres less than 100 microns in diameter (a micron is 1 millionth of a meter). They also encapsulated a healing agent into similarly sized microcapsules.

Then the microcapsules were dispersed within the desired coating material and applied to the substrate.

“By encapsulating both the catalyst and the healing agent, we have created a dual capsule system that can be added to virtually any liquid coating material,” said Braun.

If the coating is scratched, some of the capsules break open, spilling their contents into the damaged region. The catalyst and healing agent react, repairing the damage within minutes or hours, depending upon environmental conditions.

“Our dual capsule healing system offers a general approach to self-healing coatings that operates across a broad spectrum of coating chemistries. The microcapsule motif also provides a delivery mechanism for corrosion inhibitors, antimicrobial agents, and other functional chemicals,” said Braun.

The study will be published in the journal Advanced Materials. (ANI)

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