Cryogenic scanning electron microscopy (cryo-SEM) was used to investigate microstructure development of composite coatings prepared from dispersions of antimony-doped tin oxide (ATO) nanoparticles (∼30 nm) or indium tin oxide (ITO) nanoparticles (∼40 nm) and latex particles (polydisperse, Dv: ∼300 nm). Cryo-SEM images of ATO/latex dispersions as-frozen show small clusters of ATO and individual latex particles homogeneously distribute in a frozen water matrix. In contrast, cryo-SEM images of ITO/latex dispersions as-frozen show ITO particles adsorb onto latex particle surfaces. Electrostatic repulsion between negatively charged ATO and negatively charged latex particles stabilizes the ATO/latex dispersion, whereas in ITO/latex dispersion, positively charged ITO particles are attracted onto surfaces of negatively charged latex particles. These results are consistent with calculations of interaction potentials from past research. Cryo-SEM images of frozen and fractured coatings reveal that both ceramic nanoparticles and latex become more concentrated as drying proceeds; larger latex particles consolidate with ceramic nanoparticles in the interstitial spaces. With more drying, compaction flattens the latex-latex particle contacts and shrinks the voids between them. Thus, ceramic nanoparticles are forced to pack closely in the interstitial spaces, forming an interconnected network. Finally, latex particles partially coalesce at their flattened contacts, thereby yielding a coherent coating. The research reveals how nanoparticles segregate and interconnect among latex particles during drying.
- Ceramic nanoparticle
- Microstructure development