Researchers are using cutting-edge microscale accuracy to track the development of coatings as they dry. Thin film coatings accomplish much more than beautifying surfaces. For instance, they can be used as medical equipment in edible films transporting medications to combat the opioid epidemic. For films used in drug delivery technology, it is particularly crucial to consider how these coatings dry because this can alter their properties.
When particles’ interactions are adjusted during drying, the researchers examined how particles rearrange themselves. These particles acted as a stand-in for the active pharmaceutical component in a drug delivery technology film.
Using high-speed confocal laser scanning microscopy, the researchers peered directly inside these films to capture thousands of pictures that reveal nanoscale details of particle flow and assembly 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.
The scientists discovered that when particles are attracted to one another, a scaffold is created that buckles and splits as the top interface moves during drying. Every curing stage’s microstructure for magnetic particles is connected to the development of the film’s past. In contrast to situations where particles are repulsive, their 3-D analysis of the microstructure evolution shows distinct signs of this process throughout drying.
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