Nanocoating sprays offer versatility for large scale processes

Scientists claim to have developed a new range of nanocoating sprays with optical, electronic, and biological properties. According to researchers from the Institut Charles Sadron in Strasbourg, the ultrathin coatings are especially versatile and suitable for large scale processes.

The teams, led by Gero Decher, have developed a new process, whereby using two bottles, two liquids are simultaneously sprayed onto a surface to be coated and, depending on the process conditions, the partner substance rapidly forms a continuous layer. The thickness of the film is controlled by changing the spraying time and according to the researchers can range from a few nanometers to a few micrometers. This is said to result in highly homogenous coatings that can even possess optical quality.

The original 'layer by layer' deposition technique involves 'stacking', with nanometric precision, layers of nanomaterials which have structure and chemical functionalities controlled by the sequence and nature of the constituents incorporated in the film – such as polymers, pigments, proteins or particles.

In a bid to improve and extend this technique, the specialists created this new deposition method to make the assembly of nanoscale films even more powerful and easy to apply.

The technique has led to the development of a range of nanocoatings with new and varied applications in materials science, such as light emitting diodes, fuel cells, photovoltaic cells, anti-corrosion coatings, flexible screens and separation membranes.

In addition, the introduction of biologically active molecules (peptides, enzymes, medicines, proteins, DNA, cells, etc.) within these films is said to make it possible to obtain nanocoatings that have numerous applications in life sciences, such as biocompatibility of implants, preparation of dressings, tissue engineering, gene transfection, pharmaceutical vectors, and bio-sensors.

Researchers at the university claim this new method could cut production costs in industry, promote investment in sustainable product development and extend product ranges.

Laura Hopperton

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