Researchers Build Multi-Component Coating

MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2024

A team of scientists from the University of Maine recently developed a new multi-component coating with the potential for use in industries like healthcare and environmental conservation.

According to researchers Zachary Applebee and Dr. Caitlin Howell, the new multi-component, liquid-infused surfaces (LIS) system was designed to actively respond to their environment by including multiple elements into the liquid layer. 

About the Research

The team reportedly began testing and developing new liquid-infused surfaces in hopes of changing the way people approach surface coatings.

According to the release provided to, this versatility of the new multi-component LIS could open opportunities for applications in medical devices that passively and actively combat infection, as well as advanced carbon-capture systems and chemical delivery mechanisms controlled by magnetic fields.

"In this review, we explore the untapped potential of multi-component liquid-infused surfaces," explained Applebee, a graduate researcher at the University of Maine.

"By integrating various elements into the liquid coating, we can achieve synergistic effects that enhance functionality in ways previously thought impossible. This opens up new avenues for innovation in both industry and medicine."

The researchers explained that the study was done in order to categorize surfaces on the size of their secondary components, ranging from molecular to microscale, and present examples to show how the inclusion of other elements could lead to advancements.

The review is reportedly meant to highlight the diversity of fabrication methods while also helping to set the stage for future research directions in this field.

"The most important message in our review is that the liquid nature of liquid-infused coatings is a game-changer in creating surfaces that adapt and respond," said Howell, a professor at the University of Maine.

"By leveraging the natural processes of liquids, such as diffusion, flow, and return to equilibrium, we can begin to design systems that dynamically move or place secondary materials, whether molecules, nanoparticles, or even other immiscible liquids, exactly where we want, when we want. The possibilities are endless."

The team states that as more scientists and engineers learn about the capabilities of multi-component liquid-infused surfaces, more innovation could potentially follow. The team hopes that this could lead to the development of materials and systems that address some of the world's more pressing challenges.

"We believe that multi-component liquid-infused surfaces are well positioned to begin to address a wide range of problems once more researchers become aware of them," stated Howell, "and could be instrumental in designing new highly targeted drug-delivery systems or creating industrial surfaces that can adapt to different types of foulants in real-time."

The article was recently published in the journal Industrial Chemistry & Materials.

Other Surface Coatings News

In February, researchers at Kobe University reportedly developed a new nanoparticle paint with the ability to cover a surface with any bright color while using only 10% of the weight of traditional paint.

According to the university, the new technology could allow for non-fading structural colors to be printed and applied in a thin layer, potentially offering weight improvements, low environmental impacts and low biological impacts for airplanes and more.

The team said that they found a new way to create color by scattering the light of specific wavelengths around tiny, almost perfectly round silicon crystals.

The project was reportedly led by Kobe University material engineers Fujii Minoru and Sugimoto Hiroshi.

According to the researchers, an object has color when light of a specific wavelength is reflected. With traditional pigments, this happens by molecules absorbing other colors from white light, but over time this interaction makes the molecules degrade and the color fades.

Additionally, structural colors typically arise when light is reflected from parallel nanostructures set apart at the right distance so that only light of certain wavelengths will survive while others are cancelled out, reflecting only the color we see. This can reportedly be seen in butterfly wings or peacock feathers and keep the colors from degrading.  

However, the university stated that from an industrial point of view, neatly arranged nanostructures can’t be painted or printed easily, and the color depends on the viewing angle, making the material iridescent.

Fujii and Sugimoto reportedly showed that the suspension can be applied to surfaces and would coat the underlying material in a form of structural color that does not depend on the viewing angle.

This is reportedly because the color is not created by the interaction of light reflected from surrounding structures as with traditional structural colors, but by its efficient scattering around individual nanospheres.

The team used computational simulations to search for the properties of the ink under different circumstances. This reportedly included varying the size of the particles and the distance between them, confirming their results experimentally.

They noted that they found that the reflectance was highest when the individual particles were separated instead of when tightly packed. They also added that after further development and refinements, there could be new interesting applications of their technology in the future.


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