Skip to main content

Teer Coatings’ project analyses high performance antimicrobial coating for the space sector

NEWS: Collaborates with University of Surrey, funded by SPRINT, to accelerate product development

For use on space stations and long-duration crewed missions, including journeys to the moon and Mars

Teer Coatings, a specialist coatings company, has collaborated with the University of Surrey on a major research project aimed at analysing a prototype of a silver nanoparticle embedded, high performance antimicrobial coating, for use on space stations and long-duration crewed missions, including journeys to the moon and Mars.

The main innovation of this project was to confirm whether the addition of copper to the silver/carbon coating could finely control the migration rate of the embedded silver nanoparticles. The silver nanoparticles present at the coating’s surface have exhibited effective antimicrobial functions, which makes them suitable for use on the surfaces of spacecraft cabins. However, they tend to gradually disperse through daily tear and wear. Under microgravity conditions, the existing antimicrobial technology may fail or work at a reduced performance.

Teer Coatings investigated various approaches to optimise the silver nanoparticle doped amorphous carbon coatings for optimum performance and to extend the product’s lifespan, making it suitable for space applications. Teer Coatings will also develop applications in parallel for secondary markets in the medical and food and beverage sectors.

With the funding support of the project, the coating samples have been prepared and heated to elevated temperatures at Teer Coatings, then analysed by advanced metrology instrument at the University of Surrey to determine the change of metal concentrations. The data is still under rigorous analysis, but the final result would be able to indicate how long the lifespan of the novel coating would be, which is critical for the coating product development.

The project with the University of Surrey was funded by the £7.5 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme. SPRINT provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

Through the SPRINT programme, Teer Coatings accessed the University of Surrey’s Ion Beam Centre, the only research laboratory in the UK capable of providing advanced analytical techniques to characterise the samples and precisely measure their metal concentrations. This helped to accelerate Teer Coatings’ ability to overcome the final technical development hurdle and bring the product to market earlier.

Jinlong Yin, Team Leader at Teer Coatings said: “We’ve worked previously with academics to prove that the coatings can work. We were now looking to control the silver particle diffusion for the first time, taking a new approach to proving how efficient the coating is.

“The great challenge is the lifetime of the coating as it has to last for at least 10 years, so the project was aimed at extending the lifetime, making it suitable for space stations. Surrey was the only facility in the UK with the modelling expertise and testing capability to help us by analysing the composition of the coating and how it will evolve over time, enabling us to improve the production procedure.”

Jonathan England, Professor of Ion Implantation Technology at the University of Surrey added: “The Ion Beam Centre enabled us to provide Teer Coatings with unique metrology techniques. This measured the silver and how it moves in materials, as well as the coatings that Teer Coatings produces.”

Want to find out more about our capabilities?
Try our capabilities search tool.

Search Capabilities

Keep up to date with the latest SPRINT news and events with our monthly newsletter