Smart coatings based on polymer matrix doped with carbon nanoparticles, such as carbon nanotubes or graphene, are being widely studied. The addition of carbon nanofillers into organic coatings usually enhances their performance, increasing their barrier properties, corrosion resistance, hardness, and wear strength. Moreover, the developed composites provide a new generation of protective organic coatings, being able to intelligently respond to damage or external stimuli. Carbon nanoparticles induce new functionalities to polymer coatings, most of them related to the higher electrical conductivity of nanocomposite due to the formation of percolation network. These coatings can be used as strain sensors and gauges, based on the variation of their electrical resistance (structural health monitoring, SHM). In addition, they act as self-heaters by the application of electrical voltage associated to resistive heating by Joule effect. This opens new potential applications, particularly deicing and defogging coatings. Superhydrophobic and self-cleaning coatings are inspired from lotus effect, designing micro- and nanoscaled hierarchical surfaces. Coatings with self-healable polymer matrix are able to repair surface damages. Other relevant smart capabilities of these new coatings are flame retardant, lubricating, stimuli-chromism, and antibacterial activity, among others.
Part of the book: 21st Century Surface Science