The project would also be supervised by Rob Dalgliesh and Adam Washington from ISIS.
Coatings underpin our material world by creating surfaces that have the desired properties e.g. aesthetic, protective, conductive, wear resistant and importantly chemical resistant. Polymer based barrier coatings (effectively “paints”) are particularly important, to protect high-cost materials. Nowhere do coatings offer more added value than in the corrosion protection of metals such as Steel and Aluminium, extending the operational range and lifetime of metals in numerous real- world applications (aviation, marine, extreme environments (thermal, chemical)), having substantial economic and environmental sustainability. We would like to develop insight into how the underlying physics and chemical composition links to the overall coating properties. This would lead to a rational way in which to formulate, validate and put in service new and ever more sustainable coatings. In terms of corrosion protection, the process mechanisms and synergies are largely unknown, due to these being highly complex formulations.
Our current go to technique for this work is the technique of X-ray tomography, which requires a phenomenal degree of sample preparation and is not able to be fully immersed in solvent to replicate many of the situations we would like to investigate. Using SANS/SEMSANS in a higher throughput fashion, we want to look at how a polymer matrix incorporating many inorganic nano/micro particle fillers responds to changes in solvent condition e.g. water, methanol. Where do these solvents go? Do they sit at the particle interfaces, at what point does too much particle filler dramatically increase the uptake and transport of water through the layer? All these are questions we hope to answer by thoroughly studying these complex hierarchical films using SANS/SEMSANS.
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