Ceramic surfaces with different functionalities

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The funzionalization of surfaces has recently received significant attention in different industrial sectors. In the ceramic sector, and particularly in the construction materials one, the modification of chemico-physical properties of surfaces – by deposition of coatings, glazes or direct structuring – allows the realization of materials with a controlled wettability, able to degradate pollutants (fotocatalytic, superihydrophilic surfaces) or to prevent surfaces from becoming sooty and dark (“lotus like” surfaces).


In the last years, ISTEC has developed the know-how for the realization of:

  • the so-called “self cleaning” surfaces
  • superhydrofilic surfaces (contact angle with water < 5°)
  • superhydrophobic surfaces (contact angle with water >160°)
  • surfaces with very high dynamic hydrophobicity (sliding angle < 20°)
  • oleophobic surfaces (contact angle with oil >120°)

In particular, different research lines and precompetitive development activities are devoted to the realization of surfaces coated with semiconductors, i.e. TiO2, presenting very high hydrophilicity and ability to degradate organic and inorganic (NOx) pollutants under UV irradiation; in this field, ISTEC is developing innovative solutions in order to increase surfaces’ activities in different environmental conditions (i.e. in the dark or with light sources in the visibile range) so widening their application range.

In the meantime, prototypes of superhydrophobic ceramic surfaces with different finishing (unglazed and glazed with glazes of different compositions), extremely repellent to water (contact angle with water >160°), having in the meantime high dynamic hydrophobicity and oleophobicity, which present great potentialities in new applications in several industrial sectors, were developed at ISTEC.


M. Raimondo, G. Guarini, C. Zanelli, F. Marani, L. Fossa, M. Dondi, Photocatalytic, highly hydrophilic porcelain stoneware slabs, IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 2011 in press;

M. Dondi and M. Raimondo, Novel performance requirements of buildings: new challenges for ceramic material, Proceedings of 11th International Conference on Advanced Materials, ICAM 2009, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), September 20-25, 2009.

P.M. Tenorio Cavalcante, M. Dondi, G. Guarini, M. Raimondo, G. Baldi, Colour performance of ceramic nano-pigments, Dyes and Pigments, 80, 2, 226-232, 2009.

M. Raimondo, C. Zanelli, M. Dondi, G. Guarini, V. Biasini, D. Gardini, Surface properties of porcelain stoneware tiles: the influence of different protective coatings, Proceedings of IX Qualicer, Castellon (Spain) February 12-15, 2006. P.BC 325-333

Dondi M., Ercolani G., Guarini G., Melandri C., Raimondo M., Almendra E.R., Cavalcante Tenorio P.M., The role of surface microstructure on the resistance to stains of porcelain stoneware tiles. Journal of the European Ceramic Society, 25, 357-365, 2005.


The design and realization of industrial ceramics with photocatalytic activity, highly hydrophilic or, on the contrary, superhydrophobicor oleophobic, require to set up innovative process for the deposition of functional layers, evaluating the correlation with bulk (chemico-physical, meccanical, tribological, thermal and microstructural), surface (composition, structure and morphology) and functional (catalytic activity, wettability and durability) properties of industrial products. The functionalization of building materials with semiconductor oxides can be achieved by using digital o roller deposition techniques, followed by thermal cycles suitable to get the desired functionalities. Among the others, the mechanical resistance and adhesion of layers, as well as their lasting performances, are the most important parameters to be detected.

Superhydrophobic surfaces can be obtained by spin or dip coating deposition of oxides’ precursors obtained by sol-gel routes. In all cases, ISTEC is able to support the design and realization of industrial ceramics, and to offer the most suitable analytical techniques for the characterization of final products.


  • University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
  • Colorobbia Italia (Sovigliana Vinci, FI)
  • Marazzi Group
  • ITC-CNR Milano
  • Bando Distretti Produttivi Emilia Romagna, Progetto InProCer