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High tech meets low tech: Team uses spray gun to apply nanoplatelets

Illustration of spray gun applying layer of nano platelets

Illustration: Dwight Look College of Engineering

Nanoparticles have the potential to modify the physical and mechanical properties of polymers for a wide range of applications. But current methods rely on complex and energy-intensive techniques, such as layer-by-layer or patterning approaches, which are limited in scale and offer poor stability.

But a research team that includes Minhao Wong, a former graduate assistant in the Dwight Look College of Engineering, has developed a way to apply nanoplatelets with a common, off-the-shelf spray gun. The findings were published recently in Nature Communications.

Using this scalable and simple method, researchers say they have achieved extremely fine and highly ordered nano-scale features that are commonly found in sophisticated manufacturing. The approach is expected to be immediately useful in any application where blocking oxygen molecules is important, such as anti-corrosion paints for metal surfaces. The technique is simple and could be easily extended to other functional nanosheets, the researchers say.

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