Let’s start with the word ceramic.
A ceramic is a solid material comprising of an inorganic compound of metal, non-metal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. Many ceramics can contain carbon or silicon. Now getting this ceramic component into a clear thin film is another piece to this equation. Most of the Nano-ceramic coatings today utilize silica. With nanotechnology available, coatings consisting of silica as a backbone, with other elements, have been designed to self-assemble on a surface to create a thin film with many new surface characteristics. Self-assembly is the most common term in use in the modern scientific community to describe the spontaneous grouping of particles (atoms, molecules, colloids, etc.) without the influence of any external forces. In order to get materials on a surface to assemble and become a hardened film, a sol-gel process is most times utilized. This is basically taking a mixture of the particles in a carrier liquid which later evaporates off into the gel which then hardens into the glass-like substance with the desired performance characteristics. The principal mechanical characteristics and structures of polymer composites are being re-evaluated, with an emphasis on bioinspired materials and structures. Simply put, there are structures in nature that can be mimicked by creating these structures on the surface. An example most commonly associated with these type of silica coatings is the Lotus effect or self-cleaning effect. This is much the reason that a coated surface will stay cleaner longer and even release dirt with little energy. The hardening of the coatings will all be based on its design and is associated with the coating’s mechanical properties. Optically these coatings used for protection are clear or transparent which makes them desirable for any surface.
In a simple version, these coatings use Nano or micro sized particles of silica mainly mixed with a binder (glue) which are then assembled into a glass like structure once applied to a surface. The coatings can chemically bond and some even mechanically (much stronger) bond to the surface for a very long time. Durability is measured in years not months.