Department of Polymer Engineering
The focus of research in the Soucek group is creating new environmentally benign coatings. We take a multidisciplinary approach to coatings science or paint technology, where the fundamental understanding of coating science begins with chemical reactions and chemical interactions within a multiphase system. We specialize in crosslinked coating systems: 1) Autoxidatively Crosslinked; 2) High Solids; 2) Crosslinkable Latexes; 3) UV-Curable; 4) Thermosetting Powder. We investigate the crosslinking reactions using model compounds, and prepare coating formulations from the model compound studies. We study crosslinking in situ (in the formulation) via a variety of techniques including Photo-DSC, Real-time-IR, and DMTA. The degree of crosslinking and coating morphology are related to the final coatings properties including fracture toughness, hardness, abrasion resistance, and corrosion resistance.
We also specialize coatings known as ceramers. Ceramer coatings are part ceramic, and part organic polymer with a coupling agent, which links the inorganic, and organic phases together. The inorganic domain can be controlled from the couple nanometers to microns. We use thermosetting organic polymers where the speed of the crosslinking reactions and catalysts control the size and structure of the inorganic domain. In addition to bulk morphology of the coating, the ceramer coating can self-assemble on metallic surfaces to create a passivating pre-ceramic phase which has been shown inhibit corrosion even on surfaces in which corrosion has already begun. These coatings have shown outstanding abrasion, chemical, and corrosion resistance.
Our group has recently focused on three new areas. The first project is UV-curable coatings. We have a concerted effort in the UV-arena from developing new UV-curable resins, studying the crosslinking kinetics, to evaluation of coating performance. A second new area is in protective space coatings. The focus here is in coatings that will perform in the stratosphere, LEO, and in GEO. We envision developing coatings which can be applied in space or in the upper earth atmosphere to repair damage or even construct space structures from composite building materials. The third field of focus is UV-curable Powder Coatings. It is my goal to create a UV-Curable Powder Research Coatings Center where industrial and academic partnerships are formed to move the UV-curable powder coatings into new coating markets.