Modular sol-gel-technology for functional coatings
Sol-gel materials include a wide range of inorganic and hybrid organic/inorganic compounds which are prepared by a common synthesis method described by sol-gel-technology. They are made from metal alkoxide precursors that undergo transformation from singular molecules through sols, which progress to gels and then to strong solid materials. Since the precursors are liquid in nature, sol-gels are ideal materials to be used in coatings for standard, and especially complex shapes. An essential element of the sol-gel process is the hydrolysis and consequent polymerization of the metal-oxide backbone, which is of key importance to form coatings. In fact, due to the large versatility in choice of precursors, sol-gel-technology may be utilized to formulate coatings with specific functionalities such as easy-to-clean, superhydrophobic, superhydrophilic or self-cleaning; either as stand-alone attributes, or as combinations.