Natalia Spera, developing self-healing materials to enhance corrosion protection capabilities

April 23, 2024

Natalia joined INL – International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory as a Research Engineer in the Nanochemistry Research Group. She is currently working on synthesising, characterising, and applying sustainable coatings with self-healing solutions. 

Can you give us an update on what you’re currently working on?

I am currently working on the development of self-healing materials to enhance corrosion protection capabilities and extend the longevity of offshore structures within the MAREWIND Project. My responsibilities encompass researching and developing core-shell nanofibers and microcapsules feasible for application in liquid coating formulations. Our solution entails having an autonomous healing response when the coating is damaged. Recently, we achieved a significant milestone by successfully scaling up our innovative self-healing materials for application in a 100-litre batch, marking a crucial step forward in transitioning laboratory technology to industry.

Could you briefly describe what a typical day looks like for you, Natalia, and what aspects of your work and the INL organization excite you the most?

Certainly! A typical day for me involves a dynamic mix of laboratory experiments, data analysis, and collaboration with colleagues. I usually begin with hands-on lab activities that occupy a significant portion of my day. Subsequent data analysis is also an exhilarating aspect, as it enables us to validate the efficacy of our materials’ synthesis and application. The day concludes with strategic planning for the activities of the following days. Being a researcher at INL is truly gratifying because we have the opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge nanotechnology research for a sustainable future, while also collaborating with talented scientists from diverse backgrounds.

How can you inspire future students to follow a STEAM path?

For me, embracing the STEAM path involves nurturing our curiosity and creativity through practical experimentation and interdisciplinary exploration. We can inspire future students by showcasing the real-world applications of science, technology, and engineering for problem-solving and innovation. This is how civilization evolves and this is what fuels my passion for science! I also wish for all new researchers to feel empowered to pursue their interests, with a collaborative spirit, the freedom to explore new ideas, and a drive to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge every day!

Text and Photography by Gina Palha, Corporate Communication and Marketing Officer