What Does Smart Coating Mean?
Smart coatings are special films with predefined properties that make them sense and respond to environmental and other external stimuli. The coatings' self-healing and self-repair properties make them suitable for corrosion protection, material protection and other surface improvement applications.
Smart coatings combine functionality with design to offer the usual functions of coatings, such as protection and decoration, as well as unique functions based on environmental stimuli.
Corrosionpedia Explains Smart Coating
Smart coatings are made of programmable materials with a variety of physical, chemical, electrical and mechanical properties. The materials can respond to changes in light, pressure, chemical, heat and other stimuli. The coatings are categorized according to functional components, fabrication methods, their application and more. Typical coatings include:
- Self healing
- Self cleaning
- Microcapsule healing
- Anticorrosion coatings
In corrosion protection, the smart coatings' functionalities include sensing, warning, corrosion inhibition and repair. This is achieved by incorporating pH-triggered release of self-healing and multifunctional microcapsules into the smart coating.
The responsive materials are contained inside neutral pH and stable capsule shells. When corrosion occurs, it results in a basic pH, which in turn causes the pH-sensitive shell to hydrolyze and break. The broken microcapsule releases the corrosion inhibitor contents, self-healing agents and the film-forming compounds to repair and protect the damaged area.
Smart coatings are designed to remain passive unless prompted to perform a function based on the stimuli, and be able to repeat the process over and over, up to thousands of cycles or more, and spanning over several years.
Smart coatings can improve a system’s efficiency by reducing inspection times, maintenance costs and equipment downtime. Smart coating also results in a reduced need for repairing corroded areas in addition to extending the life of components and structures made from corrosive materials. Other advantages include their ability to detect and prevent corrosion, on-demand delivery of corrosion inhibitors and being environmentally friendly.
Smart coatings are widely used in medical, military, textile, transport, construction, electronics and other industries for protection against corrosion and abrasion, as well as other surface protection purposes.