A team of scientists from the Eindhoven University of Technology have developed a coating with a surface that repairs itself after damage. Based upon the same principles as hydrophobic surfaces, the new nano-coating has numerous potential applications including the creation of cars that never need to be washed and aircraft that need to be repainted less frequently. Think of all the water and could be saved – not to mention all the time!

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Here at Inhabitat, we have coveredself-healing materialsbefore, such as a plastic that repairs itself and a phone case that protects itself from scratches. However those coatings are often compromised by being scratched off.  The Dutch team have found that they could prevent this by developing surfaces with special ‘stalks’ carrying the functional chemical groups at their ends, and mixing these through the coating.

If the outer surface layer is removed by scratching, the ‘stalks’ in the underlying layer re-orient to the new surface, thereby restoring the function. In essence, this could lead to the creation of a self-cleaning car, whose highly water-resistant coating would keep it cleaner for longer periods of time. Any scratches would immediately be repaired, allowing water to simply roll off the car, taking any dirt with it. The same principle could also be appled to planes, trains, boats and even mobile phones.

Of course, there are a couple of limitations with the new coating, which isn’t surprising considering that it’s still in the development phase. Currently it only works with superficial scratches that do not completely penetrate the coating, however the Dutch team aim to work with other universities and industrial partners. to find a solution to this problem. If all goes to plan, the first coatings will be ready for production within six to eight years.

The team’s findings are published in the latest issue of Advanced Materials.

+ Eindhoven University of Technology

via BBC News

Images: ndrwfgg and mikemol