Professor Zhiliang Zhang | The Super-tough Coating that Repels Ice
About this episode
Ice can cause serious damage to vehicles and infrastructure, including aircraft, pavements, power lines, and wind turbines. It is important to remove ice before it causes damage, but doing this manually is often expensive and energy-intensive, and sometimes even dangerous. Researchers have begun to develop so-called ‘super-hydrophobic’ coatings, which can repel incoming water droplets before they freeze. This not only prevents ice from building up; it also weakens the adhesion of ice that does freeze to the surface, allowing it be removed more easily. Read More
The remarkable ability of these coatings comes from a combination of their chemical composition, and their unique structures. However, the intricate surface textures of these coatings can quickly degrade as they are exposed to harsh outdoor conditions, and as ice is scraped off.
In a new study, a team led by Professor Zhiliang Zhang at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology present a robust ‘ice-phobic’ coating, which is far more durable than previous materials. With an ultra-smooth surface, and a spongy structure that reduces the strength of ice adhesion, the team’s coating adheres strongly to the surfaces it protects. It can even heal itself when damaged by cuts and scrapes.
Zhang’s team put their material through a series of extreme tests. The coating maintained its ice-phobic properties even after exposure to the harsh Norwegian winter, and after being immersed in salt water for 8 months.
The researchers hope that their results will give important new insights into how ice-phobic coatings should be designed to better withstand the everyday challenges of frigid outdoor environments.
How could this technology improve everyday life for people living in colder climates?
Professor Zhiliang Zhang: Our durable ice-phobic coatings could benefit both individuals and industry in colder climates: ice-free car windows, safe emergency exits, efficient wind turbines, and snow-free solar panels are some of the potential applications of the technology. This brings safety, productivity, and sustainability to society.
How does the coating heal itself when damaged?
Professor Zhiliang Zhang: Our coating is self-healing by using supramolecular silicone that incorporates both PDMS and multiple reversible hydrogen bonding as the physical cross-linking segments. When the coating is mechanically damaged, the reversibility of these hydrogen bonds allows the material to self-heal.
How long will it take for super-ice-phobic coatings to become widely available?
Professor Zhiliang Zhang: The timeline for widespread availability of ice-phobic coatings depends on research, testing, optimization, and market adoption. While challenging to predict, advancements suggest they could become more accessible in the coming years, benefiting industries and individuals in colder climates.
Original Article Reference
Summary of the paper ‘Ultra-robust icephobic coatings with high toughness, strong substrate adhesion and self-healing capability’, in Science China Materials, doi.org/10.1007/s40843-022-2340-9
For further information, you can connect with Professor Zhiliang Zhang at email@example.com
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