Scientists Secure Two Patents on Self-cleaning Coating Research

Faculty and students at UMass Lowell and Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel have joined forces to study and produce new coatings that make surfaces from glass to metal self-cleaning.

Tehila Nahum was part of a team of researchers including faculty from UMass Lowell and Shenkar College that  secured two patents.

Tehila Nahum was part of a team of researchers including faculty from UMass Lowell and Shenkar College that secured two patent

That research, which is covered by two patents, could revolutionize the aerospace, automotive and building industries, among others. Coatings Make Surfaces Superhydrophobic

The coatings developed by faculty and student researchers in plastics engineering make surfaces superhydrophobic and are not only self-cleaning, but also non-adhesive and non-wetting

They resist corrosion, reducing and friction, which can translate into a wide range of commercial applications that reduce maintenance and pollution

For example, a surface such as the exterior of an aircraft can be treated with a coating that will significantly decrease accumulation of snow and ice, which can lead to the reduction or elimination of the need to use chemical de-icers

The coatings can be sprayed onto large, new and existing surfaces – such as kitchen appliances and medical devices – and are based on commercially-available materials. A range of other potential applications exist in the construction, agriculture, optical, aerospace and military sectors.

“The importance of the joint research and academic partnership is in the synergy of theoretical know-how and technical infrastructure that the two institutions share,” said Kenig.

Joint Research Effort

The innovative results of their work – coatings that are easier to apply, lower in cost and more durable than competitors’ – are protected by two patents and have been published in academic journals and presented at technical conferences.

“The joint intellectual property reinforces and enhances the academic and technical standing of the researchers from UMass Lowell and Shenkar,” Kenig, UMass Lowell Plastics Engineering professors said.

“We are excited about the possibilities for this technology. Without the support of the Pernick Fund, along with that of the federal government and Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the years, none of this would have been possible. It is truly a story where philanthropy has led not only to educating our future researchers, but also to strengthening the local economy and creating new materials to solve real-world problems,” said Mead, whose roles also including serving as director of UMass Lowell’s Nanomanufacturing Center.

“I have found this collaboration with faculty and students from Shenkar College to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of my professional career. I look forward to more great work as we go forward,” said Mead, who was recently named this year’s UMass Lowell Distinguished University Professor.



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