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article imageYale scientists develop new method for watching paint dry

By Martin Laine     Aug 10, 2010 in Science
Anyone who’s ever painted anything, from home handymen to the major auto manufacturers, has had the experience of finishing a paint job only have the shiny new coating peel off. But now researchers have found out how to zoom in on coatings.
And there are always plenty of explanations. The surface was improperly prepared. The paint was defective. Something was wrong with the primer. It was too hot, or too cold; too wet, or too dry.
Now a team of researchers at Yale University has joined the hunt for an explanation, armed with a new method of tracking what happens to the particles that make up the paint as the surface dries. Their finding are published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Coatings protect almost every surface you encounter, from paint on a wall to Teflon on a frying pan,” said Eric Dufresne, the John J. Lee Professor of Mechanical Engneering at Yale. “Our research is aimed at pinpointing the failure of coatings. We’ve developed this new technique to zoom in on coatings and watch them fail at the microscopic level.”
The new technique allows researchers to image the action of the pain in 3D, by mixing in fluorescent particles that glow when a laser is trained on them. Over time, they can see in detail the motion of the paint as it dries and peels. In more scientific terms, they are able to generate a 3D “stress map” to analyze the mechanical stresses that colloidal coatings undergo.
While this study focused on only one type of coating, the team hopes to improve on it to be able to use it for all kinds of coatings.
“This is a completely new way of looking at a very old problem,” Dufresne said.
More about Yale university, Collodial coatings, Paint peeling
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