Disclosed is a transparent self-assembling polymer clay nanocomposite coating that is useful in food, drink and electronic packaging as a gas barrier and on textiles and clothing as a flame retardant coating. The coating includes two main components a water dispersible polymer and a sheet like nanoparticle. The coatings may be applied to any substrate. The coatings are applied sequentially with polymer being applied first followed by the nanoparticles. This sequence results in the self-assembly of a highly ordered nanocomposite film that exhibits high barrier properties and flame retardancy. The desired level of gas barrier or flame retardancy desired can be adjusted by the number of bilayers applied.

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