Novel Seashell-Inspired Coating Material Protects Against Hostile Environments

Aug, 2022 - By WMR

Novel Seashell-Inspired Coating Material Protects Against Hostile Environments

Researchers developed a novel coating material inspired by seashells that is extremely strong, heat resistant, light weight, and affordable

Many of the recent studies are focusing on developing new coating materials to increase durability of materials used to shield spacecraft. Now a team of scientists at Sandia National Laboratories developed a novel coating material that can provide protection against harsh environments such as extreme heat and impacts. As reported by the scientists, the new coating material is inspired by seashells and it is extremely strong, heat resistant, light weight as well as inexpensive. The material could be used in shielding of fusion facilities or spacecraft.

The unique structure of seashells comprising alternating layers of inorganic and organic matters makes them extremely tough. The team of scientists in this research tried to imitate this structure to create a new material. In seashell structure the organic layers hold them together while inorganic nanograins offer strength to the structure. In this new coating material, the researchers added carbon black that is created from burnt sugar, in the organic layers and used silica to make inorganic layers. This made the new material incredibly lightweight, weighing only few micrograms per layer. Moreover, it possesses hardness of more than 11 GPa (GigaPascals), and elastic modulus of 120 GPa. More to that, when tested the material was able to withstand heat of over 2,102 ˚F (1,150 ˚C) and it is expected to survive in 3,002 ˚F (1,650 ˚C).

Furthermore, this new coating material is extremely cheap to develop as it requires only 25 cents to create 2 inch square of this material. Moreover, this material is also environment-friendly compared to other materials, as it needs addition of only ethanol in its production process. These properties make this novel seashell-inspired coating material highly usable in shielding for fusion reactor facilities or spacecraft.

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