Researchers Develop 'Self-Healing' Solar Coating


Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bhilai have reportedly developed a new formulation for a “self-healing” polymeric coating for solar cells, demonstrating the ability to heal cracks within five minutes.

According to the report published in the European Polymer Journal, the team, led by Dr. Sanjib Banerjee from the department of chemistry, plans to evaluate the formulation for potential aerospace applications.

About the Research

According to one report from clean energy communications and consulting group Mercom India, the self-healing coat material is a polymer called PSt-b-PTEVE, synthesized through a water tolerant method called cationic polymerization. This polymer, according to researchers, can heal cracks independently due to its redox responsiveness.

The researchers stated that a primary motivation for the project was solar cells’ “critical” role in combating climate change through harnessing sunlight to generate power, without fuel consumption or producing harmful emissions.

As a renewable energy source, solar cells reportedly play a crucial role in combating climate change through reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Since it is abundant and sustainable, researchers believe that solar energy could present a viable solution to meeting increasing energy demands.

According to another report from Times of India, prolonged exposure to hot and humid environmental conditions can inflict damage on solar cells, hampering their efficiency and performance. The introduction of the new self-healing coating material is now reportedly expected to change this, as it can prevent crack propagation and system failures.

Additionally, the simplicity, cost-effectiveness and "industry-friendly nature" of the process reportedly bode well for its eventual integration into solar cell manufacturing. Researchers stated that the venture holds the promise of enhancing the reliability and performance of aerospace technology, making it more resilient to environmental stressors.

Researchers also stated that though nature offers some examples of self-healing phenomena, translating them to engineering materials for practical purposes could present significant challenges.

The project was reportedly supported by IIT Bhilai, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and the Space Experiments Review Board (SERB). The team of researchers, including Subrata Dolui, Bhanendra Sahu, Devendra Kumar and Dr. Sanjib Banerjee, now reportedly aim to bridge this gap and bring self-healing technology to practical applications.

Similar News

In March, researchers at ETH Zurich reportedly developed a plastic corrosion protection material that glows in places where it is not damaged, repairs itself and can be reused multiple times. 

The work on this novel material, lead by Markus Niederberger and Walter Caseri from the Laboratory for Multifunctional Materials, was published in the journal Polymers. ETH researchers also collaborated with partner universities in Spain, Austria, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The development of the material reportedly came out of “pure chance,” as researchers were working on the product of nanoparticles in a special organic solvent. However, under certain conditions, the solvent would become solid and polymerized.

Despite being created by accident, researchers began refining the material into poly(phenylene methylene), or PPM, and also discovered that it had a high thermal stability and fluoresced.

Laboratory tests then revealed that a PPM-based coating could protect metals such as aluminum against corrosion. Researchers report that the protective coating can be applied in layers that are up to 10 times thinner than conventional protective agents, and it is durable.

Additionally, the polymer can seal any damage to the coating itself without any additives, the researchers say.

According to the university’s release, countries globally invest about 3.5% of annual gross domestic product in corrosion protection, amounting to more than $4,000 billion.

Once mixed as paint and heated, PPM can reportedly be sprayed onto a surface and become a solid. Then, the polymer can indicate holes and cracks in the protective layer by failing to fluoresce.

It is reportedly more sustainable than other corrosion protection materials, due to its ability to be completely removed and recycled at the end of the product’s life. Some polymer material is lost in this process, but remains at a recycling rate of 95%.

Researchers found that they could reuse the material five times in testing. This material also reportedly performs better than epoxy-based corrosion protection materials in regards to environmental impact and human health.

The researchers have applied for a patent for the invention.


Tagged categories: Aerospace; Asia Pacific; Coating Materials; Coatings; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Formulating; Latin America; North America; Polymers; Program/Project Management; Quality Control; Research and development; Self-healing; Solar; Solar energy; Z-Continents

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