Melting gels are a class of hybrid organic-inorganic, silica-based sol-gels which are solid below their glass transition temperatures, near room temperature, but show thermoplastic behavior when heated. While this phase change can be repeated multiple times, heating the gel past its consolidation temperature, typically above 130 °C, initiates an irreversible reaction that produces highly crosslinked glassy organic/inorganic materials via hydrolysis and polycondensation. This ability makes melting gels uniquely compatible with processing techniques inaccessible to other sol-gels. By properly tuning their properties, it should be possible to create protective coatings for electronics and anti-corrosive coatings for metals that are highly hydrophobic and insulating. However, melting gel consolidation reactions are highly dependent on charge interactions, raising the question of how these materials will respond to a processing technique, like electrospray deposition (ESD), which is dependent on charge delivery. In this study, we focus on the role that substrate temperature and charge polarity play on film morphology, consolidation chemistry, and surface properties when processing via ESD. Optical images, film thickness measurements, and FTIR were used to characterize the sprayed melting gel with the goal of developing a robust processing space for producing highly cross linked, hydrophobic, dielectric coatings.

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