A View from Katherine Bourzac
Nano Coatings with Bling
Polymer coatings containing nanocrystalline diamond are UV-protective and scratch-resistant.
Nanocrystalline diamond particles are about 5 nanometers in diameter. They’re exceptionally tough and hard, which makes them promising potential additives for polymer coatings. But making polymer-nanodiamond composites that share these mechanical properties has proved challenging.
In a paper published online in the journal ACS Nano on February 4, researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia describe a new process for making these composites. By using a technique called electrospinning, they were able to better disperse the nanodiamonds throughout the polymer. The resulting coatings are transparent, tough, scratch-resistant, protect against UV, and are thermally conductive.
The researchers coated several surfaces with the films, including the computer chip in the two images below. The image at left shows a computer chip after the composite has been electrospun onto its surface. After brief heating, the coating becomes clear, as in the image on the right.