Armed with nanocomposite techniques and insights into bio-based materials, new classes of smart, adaptable super-surface coatings are possible, according to European researchers. Teams from Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK investigated a new class of bio-based materials tailored to the needs of different fields, including medicine, the environment, electronics, manufacturing, and even health and safety applications.
The Surface functionalisation of cellulose matrices using cellulose embedded nanoparticles (Surfuncell) project investigated the effects of cellulose dissolution, structuration with nanoparticles and irreversible coatings. The project targeted, in particular, so-called surface compounds – where the compounding is strictly limited to the surface of the matrix polymer material. This, they predicted (accurately), would prevent deterioration of the compound structure, or matrices holding the materials together. Under different conditions, such as intense heat, cold or through other wear, tear and exposure, the chemical properties of the material could change and weaken the bond holding the compound together. These ground-breaking new materials are made up of extremely small layers of polysaccharides (a carbohydrate with a number of sugar molecules bonded together) coated with nanoparticles comprising other biological or mineral matter. When applied to the surface of other materials, to form a composite, the coating performs a very special role. The improved properties of these materials, such as antimicrobial activity, selective adsorption, flame resistance, electrical conductivity, antimicrobial activity and barrier properties (for precise separation), could make them ideal for use in medical and hygiene devices, water-purification systems, as well as in the electronics industry.