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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2011 Mar;3(3):750-8. doi: 10.1021/am1010964. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

Characterization of multilayer anti-fog coatings.

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Centre de Recherche du C.H.U.Q., 10 rue de l'Espinay, Québec, Québec G1L 3L5, Canada.


Fog formation on transparent substrates constitutes a major challenge in several optical applications requiring excellent light transmission characteristics. Anti-fog coatings are hydrophilic, enabling water to spread uniformly on the surface rather than form dispersed droplets. Despite the development of several anti-fog coating strategies, the long-term stability, adherence to the underlying substrate, and resistance to cleaning procedures are not yet optimal. We report on a polymer-based anti-fog coating covalently grafted onto glass surfaces by means of a multistep process. Glass substrates were first activated by plasma functionalization to provide amino groups on the surface, resulting in the subsequent covalent bonding of the polymeric layers. The anti-fog coating was then created by the successive spin coating of (poly(ethylene-maleic anhydride) (PEMA) and poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) layers. PEMA acted as an interface by covalently reacting with both the glass surface amino functionalities and the PVA hydroxyl groups, while PVA added the necessary surface hydrophilicity to provide anti-fog properties. Each step of the procedure was monitored by XPS, which confirmed the successful grafting of the coating. Coating thickness was evaluated by profilometry, nanoindentation, and UV visible light transmission. The hydrophilic nature of the anti-fog coating was assessed by water contact angle (CA), and its anti-fog efficiency was determined visually and tested quantitatively for the first time using an ASTM standard protocol. Results show that the PEMA/PVA coating not only delayed the initial period required for fog formation but also decreased the rate of light transmission decay. Finally, following a 24 hour immersion in water, these PEMA/PVA coatings remained stable and preserved their anti-fog properties.

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