Researchers are observing the evolution of coatings as they dry with groundbreaking microscale precision. Thin film coatings do much more than spruce up walls. For example, they can be used as pharmaceutical devices in edible films, similar to those to deliver drugs used to fight the opioid epidemic. How these coatings dry can change their properties, which is especially important for films used in drug delivery technology.
The researchers looked at how particles rearrange themselves during drying when their interactions are tuned. These particles behaved as a surrogate for the active pharmaceutical ingredient in a drug delivery technology film.
The researchers looked directly inside these films using high-speed confocal laser scanning microscopy to take thousands of images that give nanoscale details of how particles flow and assemble during drying. Gigabytes of data for each film are rendered to reveal their 3-D structure, giving simulation-like detail on the otherwise hidden internal processes that happen.