A new hybrid inorganic-organic approach toward robust water-borne films

Water-borne paint formulations are currently in high demand given the current health and climate considerations. Yet several challenges remain to be tackled, such as the mechanical and other multifunctional ‘smart’ properties of the water-borne coatings. This study explores the assembly of aqueous supracolloids with strawberry morphology for waterborne coating formulation. The strawberry supracolloids consist of core polymer particles with controlled partial coverage of their surface with silica nanoparticles. Multiple physical parameters such as solid content, ion concentrations, and pH were used to control the assembly of strawberry supracolloids. A reversible link between the polymer core and silica corona particles was also built. With both precisely controlled surface coverage of supracolloids and the linkage between polymer and silica in the liquid paint formulation, the continuous honey-comb shape silica skeleton embedded in the polymer film matrix was obtained.

The supracolloids coatings with highly controlled 3D networks of the silica nanoparticles provide high potential for practical applications where waterborne coatings with strong mechanical properties may be required, such as in optical, sensory, selective separation, and catalytical applications. Besides, the reversible linkage at the silica-polymer interfaces can allow the rebinding of damaged interfaces and heal inflicts on these supracolloidal coatings by applying UV light.