Using sol-gel technology, thin organic/ceramic (ceramer) coatings have been applied to metal surfaces in order to enhance such surface properties as adhesion promotion and corrosion prevention. Isotropic coatings have been found to be effective in certain applications such as corrosion prevention, but the formation of anisotropic coatings permits greater flexibility over the resulting properties. Isotropic coatings derived from tetraethoxysilane, for example, effectively inhibit corrosion while being only 100 to 1000 Å thick. These coatings do not, however, promote adhesion. Thin coatings made from traditional silane adhesion promoters alone are unable to prevent corrosion of metallic substrates.
Using monomers with appropriate reactivities permits the single-step synthesis of anisotropic coatings that can both promote adhesion and prevent corrosion. These types of anisotropic coatings allow the physical and chemical properties of a coating to be varied as a function of distance from the substrate and confer properties to the substrate that would not be possible from a single isotropic coating. The principle behind the construction of these anisotropic coatings is general enough that it can be used in many applications where microengineering of surface structures is important.