Ion Diffusion-Directed Assembly Approach to Ultrafast Coating of Graphene Oxide Thick Multilayers

The layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly approach has been widely used to fabricate multilayer coatings on substrates with multiple cycles, whereas it is hard to access thick films efficiently. Here, we developed an ion diffusion-directed assembly (IDDA) strategy to rapidly make multilayer thick coatings in one step on arbitrary substrates. To achieve multifunctional coatings, graphene oxide (GO) and metallic ions were selected as the typical building blocks and diffusion director in IDDA, respectively. With diffusion of metallic ions from substrate to negatively charged GO dispersion spontaneously (<i>i</i>.<i>e</i>., from high-concentration region to low-concentration region), GO was assembled onto the substrate sheet-by-sheet <i>via</i> sol–gel transformation. Because metallic ions with size of subnanometers can diffuse directionally and freely in the aqueous dispersion, GO was coated on the substrate efficiently, giving rise to films with desired thickness up to 10 μm per cycle. The IDDA approach shows three main merits: (1) high efficiency with a μm-scale coating rate; (2) controllability over thickness and evenness; and (3) generality for substrates of plastics, metals and ceramics with any shapes and morphologies. With these merits, IDDA strategy was utilized in the efficient fabrication of functional graphene coatings that exhibit outstanding performance as supercapacitors, electromagnetic interference shielding textiles, and anticorrosion coatings. This IDDA approach can be extended to other building blocks including polymers and colloidal nanoparticles, promising for the scalable production and application of multifunctional coatings.