PerspectiveMaterials Science

A Coat of Many Functions

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Science  27 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6153, pp. 1458-1459
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242895

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The past decade has seen great interest in the development of smart materials with autonomic functionalities. Among them smart coatings have a special niche, filling the position at the interface between bulk solid substrate and liquid or gaseous external environment. This makes them uniquely well suited for such applications as corrosion protection, detection and delivery of bioactive species, and antifouling. They can provide either autonomic response to fluctuations and variations of the coating integrity (disruption, melting) or stimulated response to changes in the external environment (magnetic or electromagnetic fields). The response action depends on the functionalities that the coatings attain during their preparation. The main challenges are to introduce these improvements, maintain them through all manufacturing steps and material life cycle, and use them efficiently when demanded.