NASA Langley Research Center has developed fluorinated alkyl ether-containing epoxies designed as an anti-insect coating. The robust and durable coating was developed to improve aircraft efficiency, but the coating could be useful in a variety of applications where reduction of insect residue adherence is desirable, such as in automotive and wind energy industries.

A NASA researcher preps a model wing for a blast from the “bug gun.”

The copolymeric epoxy coating is loaded with a fluorinated aliphatic chemical species and nano- to micro-scale particle fillers. The hydrophobic and non-wetting coating prevents accumulation of insect strike remains that can lead to natural laminar flow disruption and aerodynamic inefficiencies.

The coating achieves hydrophobicity in two ways. First, the fluorinated aliphatic chemical species are hydrophobic surface modification additives that preferentially migrate to the polymer surface that is exposed to air. Secondly, the incorporation of particle fillers produces a micro-textured surface that displays excellent resistance to wetting. Combined, these two factors increase hydrophobicity, and can also be used to readily generate superhydrophobic surfaces.

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