Surface functionalization with layer-by-layer self-assembly: A versatile coating technology achieves industrial scale

Self-limiting surface functionalization techniques have great appeal to the surface engineering and coating industry due to their precisely controllable thickness, uniform coverage, and predictable morphology. For vacuum deposition, Atomic or Molecular Layer Deposition (ALD / MLD) are well-known methods. Although not a vacuum-coating technology, wet-applied Layer-by-Layer (LbL) employs electrostatic self-assembly at the nanoscale to achieve similar coating characteristics for a wide range of applications.

LbL can play an important role in complementing vacuum deposition methods, particularly if roll-to-roll (R2R) processing can be achieved. LbL has been investigated in the academic realm for over twenty years, resulting in broad material sets for diverse use case scenarios. However, it took a breakthrough in process technology to advance the technique from a batch-based process to a continuous multi-layer concept that is suitable for economical feasibility of LbL through large-scale R2R manufacturing.

This talk will present a brief background of the underlying principle of electrostatic self-assembly, highlight some attractive application examples and the underlying material sets, and explains how the constraints of bench-top processing have been overcome to enable industrial scale-up.