Researchers from Northwestern University devised an approach for creating highly stable oil coatings on metal surfaces while retaining their remarkable self-healing properties
Low-viscosity oils can be used as self-healing barrier coatings as they can readily flow and reconnect to heal minor damage. However, these oils do not form stable coatings on metal surfaces. Although increase in the viscosity can stabilize the oil coating, it slows down the healing process. Now, a team of researchers from Northwestern University developed a new approach for creating highly stable oil coatings on metal surfaces while retaining their remarkable self-healing properties. The team developed low-viscosity oil films that can be immobilized on metal surfaces with the help of lightweight microcapsules as thickeners. These microcapsules form a dynamic network to prevent the creep of the coating. Oil around the opening can rapidly flow to cover the exposed area when the coating is scratched. This in turn reconnects the particle network.
The team created a network of lightweight particles of graphene capsules in order to thicken the oil. The network restricts the oil coating from dripping and releases the oil to flow readily and reconnect when the network is damaged by a crack or scratch. According to the researchers, the material can be made with any hollow, lightweight particle other than graphene. The team demonstrated the use of these coatings as anticorrosion barriers. The new coatings can be applied on metal surfaces with ease such as those with complex geometries. Moreover, the coatings can be used in air or under water and remain stable even in turbulent water.
The team found that the coatings are capable of protecting metal from corrosion for extended periods of time. The coatings can also self-heal repeatedly when scratched at the same spot. According the researchers, such approach may offer effective mitigation of severe localized corrosion that is a result of minor imperfections or damage in protective coatings. These imperfections are hard to prevent or detect and can significantly degrade metal properties. The research was published on January 28, 2019, in Research-- a Science Partner Journal launched by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in collaboration with the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST).
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