• barrier;
  • oxygen;
  • gas;
  • innovation;
  • shelf-life;
  • barrier polymer;
  • vacuum-deposited coating;
  • blending;
  • nanocomposite


The barrier solutions presently available on the market all have their drawbacks, e.g. cost, water-sensitivity, opacity or perceived environmental bad-will. At the same time there is a trend to use more plastic-based packaging materials for different applications, e.g. as replacements for metal and glass containers. This situation has stimulated the industry to provide new, more efficient barrier solutions. The innovations go along five major lines: (a) thin, transparent vacuum-deposited coatings; (b) new barrier polymers as discrete layers; (c) blends of barrier polymers and standard polymers; (d) organic barrier coatings; and (e) nanocomposite materials. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the different approaches, outlining the principle behind each barrier technology, its performance, its potential and the companies developing and producing the materials. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.