The latest most excellent Nanowerk Spotlight by Michael Berger is about the latest efforts of scientists to figure out how self-repairing nanomaterials will be constructed in the future. One can only imagine the immense implications for clinical medicine that such materials will have.
“Development of a new generation of self-repairing coatings and bulk materials, which have both passive mechanical characteristics originated from matrix material and active response sensitive to changes in the local environment or to the integrity of the passive matrix, opens an avenue for the fabrication of future high-tech functional surfaces” says Dr. Helmuth Möhwald. ” Novel feedback-active surfaces can be composed of a passive matrix inherited from a ‘classical’ approach for coatings and active structures for fast response of the coating properties to outer environmental impacts. The coatings have to provide release of the active and repairing material rapidly after changes in coating integrity.”
Möhwald, a director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, together with Dr. Dmitry Shchukin wrote a review on “Self-Repairing Coatings Containing Active Nanoreservoirs” in a recent issue of Small.
Möhwald and Shchukin explain that there are basically two approaches to develop “smart” surfaces: 1) the fabrication of active composite-layered systems in which the passive coating matrix is alternated with layers bearing an active coating component (e.g., corrosion inhibitor, lubricant) or 2) the integration of nanoscale containers (carriers) loaded with the active components into existing traditional coatings.
The first approach has significant shortcomings with regard to stability and self-repairing activity of the coating. Moreover, spontaneous leakage from the surface can occur during aging.
The second approach, loading active compounds into nanocontainers with a shell possessing controlled permeability and then to introduce them into the coating matrix, is much more promising.
Intrigued? Read: Nanotechnology material, heal thyself.