02 Sep SPECIFIC POLYMERS, expert in the design of innovative coatings
The number of applications where coatings are required are tremendous and the constant need for higher performances make this technology at the forefront of the innovation.
Coatings are dedicated to protect the substrate from various external stresses such as ice, heat, electricity, UV, corrosion, erosion, pollutant, bacteria… Beyond basic protection or aesthetic effect, multifunctional and smart coatings, that display certain properties upon reacting to external stimuli, have been implemented these last years. This new category of coatings aims to afford a large set of properties, increase the lifetime and reduce the maintenance of the products in a sustainable approach. This industry represents billions of dollars per year, and its development is expected to continue to accelerate.
Chemistry of innovative coatings
In SPECIFIC POLYMERS, coatings are prepared from organic and hybrid solutions using liquid deposition techniques such as spin-coating, bar-coating or spray-coating. These processes are particularly suitable with the constraints of most industrial sectors and enable to obtain thin films with good homogeneity and reproducibility.
The array of coatings is unlimited thanks to the wide toolbox that offers chemistry. Epoxies, polyurethanes, acrylics, silicones, fluoropolymers and so on present intrinsic properties that can lead to a large variety of performances. For instance, silicones are used for their high flexibility and hydrophobicity, fluoropolymers are known for their thermal resistance and oil and water-repellency whereas epoxies will present a high adhesion on metallic substrate and good mechanical resistance. These thermoplastics or thermosets can also be combined or additivated with inorganic particles, opening new perspectives in the field of multifunctional coatings (self-cleaning, anti-reflective, anticorrosion…).
Therefore, this is the role of the chemist to select and associate among all available polymers and additives the right chemistries to attain desired surface and mechanical properties. This versatility is even more enhanced by the different methods available to produce functional coatings. Beyond the classic mixing of particles in a polymeric matrix, the sol-gel chemistry enables the development of hybrid coatings at low temperature and is particularly suitable to combine at a nanoscale level organic and inorganic features in the same material. The photo-polymerization is also an interesting method to obtain thin films and is environmentally friendly thanks to its ability to cure at very fast speed with a low energy consumption and without any solvents.
Our projects dedicated to innovative multifunctional coatings
Over the years, SPECIFIC POLYMERS has been solicited by multiple customers and partners to develop innnovative coatings in various application fields: electronics, solar cells, biomedical, aeronautics, railway, optics… In the framework of the European project Piezomat, an encapsulating polymeric thin film for piezoelectric nanowires dedicated to fingerprint recognition was designed. Hybrid hydrophobic coatings for textiles and glass substrates were also implemented using the sol-gel technique and a thorough understanding of the mechanism of migration of the hydrophobic additives were investigated at the time.
Recently, our efforts were oriented to aeronautics as the challenges for coatings are numerous and diverse. For three years, we have been working in collaboration with MAPAERO through the RAPID project MARCHE on the elaboration of highly conductive coatings to protect the aircraft from lightning. Rather than developing conductive epoxies, waterborne polyurethanes were used instead, for their high adhesion on composite and their greener aspect. To protect the structural parts close to the engines of the plane, thermally stable coatings are required, and classic polymers were proved to be insufficient to withstand these temperatures. A project is currently on-going to propose coatings able to resist 300°C for tens of thousands of hours and that can be applied as conventional paints.
Anti-fingerprint, anticorrosion, anti-microbial, anti-icing or anti-reflective coatings are other examples of the properties that are investigated in our laboratories. This year, a new European project e-PROT is initiated to develop conductive coatings based on proteins for flexible electronics. More information will follow on this topic.
However, what remains the critical aspect of coatings is their durability. To answer this problematic, SPECIFIC POLYMERS is currently working on anti-erosion coatings and self-repairing materials that are able to withstand external stresses or recover their properties over time. More, we are also dedicated significant research efforts to propose sustainable coatings to our community. On the one hand, SPECIFIC POLYMERS is developing a wide range of biobased building blocks to substitute current petrobased counterparts in many different applications. On the other hand, chemical innovative approaches (covalent adaptable networks) are being developed to enhance the recyclability and reparability of thermoset coatings by introducing reversible covalent bonds into the network.
Further your research with us and benefit from our innovative coatings expertise
Thanks to our expertise in organic and material chemistry, we are able to develop custom formulations and answer your specific requirements. Over the years, we have extended our method of characterizations and are able to propose a first screening of our materials and coatings. Moreover, we have recently introduced materials modeling to its research activities which is a great asset in the development of innovative high-performance materials.