The researchers at The Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have developed a coating that features nano-capsule technology which promises to free car owners of the tiresome chore of washing the car.
Highly water-resistant coatings are nothing new, but their applications have been limited as they can easily lose these properties due to irreversible damage caused by minor scratches on the surface on which they are applied.
TU/e’s new technology features special chemical groups that are able to re-orient themselves in the event that a surface with this compound is scratched. Hence, superficial scratches can heal themselves and water droplets could just roll off the car, taking dirt with them. An occasional rain is all it takes to keep a car looking clean.
The technology can also be utilised in other areas such as contact lenses, smartphone screens, and solar panels. In the aviation industry, aircraft using the self-cleaning technology would benefit from reduced fuel consumption due to reduced air resistance from a cleaner surface while ships could employ it to prevent the build-up of algae on their hulls. In addition, the frequency with which aircraft and ships need repainting would also be reduced.
However, the researchers point out that the technology only works with superficial scratches that don’t completely penetrate the coating.
TU/e plans to collaborate with other universities and industrial partners to develop the technology further. The first coating is likely to be ready for production within six to eight years.
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