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Highlights in Chemical Science

News from across RSC Publishing.

Clever coatings

04 December 2006

A new generation of coatings that can react to their surroundings could be just around the corner.

These responsive materials can be made by incorporating nanometre-scale containers within a traditional coating, such as car paint. The containers, filled with active chemicals, remain intact with the chemicals trapped inside, until the local environment changes in a particular way. 

For example, a paint could be designed to release an anti-corrosion agent when scratched, protecting the metal surface underneath. Containers that respond to changes in temperature, humidity, pH and electromagnetic radiation can also be made. 


Reactive coating

Active chemicals trapped inside nanocontainers could be released when the coating suffers an impact


The clever coatings have grown out of a collaboration between research groups at the Max Planck Institue of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany, and the University of Aveiro, Portugal. The coatings could be used to combat bacteria or corrosion, to reduce friction, to deliver drugs, or to release fuel in batteries, said team member Dmitry Shchukin. 

'We plan to develop multifunctional coatings which combine several types of nanocontainers,' said Shchukin. 'For example, two types of nanocontainers loaded with corrosion inhibitor and oil in car paint can provide both self-healing and antifriction effects to the coating.' The team is collaborating with several automotive, steel and aerospace companies to develop the coating technology to the industrial scale. 

Clare Boothby


Feedback active coatings based on incorporated nanocontainers

D G Shchukin, M Zheludkevich and H Möhwald, J. Mater. Chem., 2006

DOI: 10.1039/b612547f