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‘Aerogel’ is a broad term used to talk about an extraordinary group of materials that have been used since the 1960’s in space travel, but are now finding uses across a whole range of industries. ‘Aerogel’ is not a specific mineral or material with a set chemical formula-rather, the term is used to encompass all materials with a specific geometrical structure. This structure is an extremely porous, solid foam, with high connectivity between branched structures of a few nanometres across.
Though aerogel is technically a foam, it can take many different shapes and forms. The majority of aerogel is composed of silica, but carbon, iron oxide, organic polymers, semiconductor nanostructures, gold and copper can also form aerogel. However, within the aerogel structure, very little is solid material, with up to 99.8% of the structure consisting of nothing but air. This unique composition gives aerogel an almost ghostly appearance; hence it is often referred to as ‘frozen smoke’.
One of the best known and most useful physical properties of aerogel is its incredible lightness-it typically has a density between 0.0011 to 0.5 g cm-3, with a typical average of around 0.020 g cm-3. This means that aerogel is usually only 15 times heavier than air, and has been produced at a density of only 3 times that of air. It is so light, that if Michelangelo’s David was constructed from aerogel, it would weigh about the same as a bag of sugar!
Who invented Aerogel? Samuel Stephens Kistler. This is the first in an eight-part series about Dr. Samuel Stephens Kistler, the inventor of aerogel. It is a great story and details the origins of aerogel. In it you will discover that aerogel was invented some time between 1929 and 1930, believe it or not, and was first commercialized as early as the 1950’s.
Aerogel was discovered in the late 1930s by chemist Samuel S. Kistler. … At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), aerogel technology has found two pri- mary applications. The first is the capture of dust particles from comet Wild 2 (pronounced “Vilt 2”) by the Stardust sample return mission.
What are the characteristics of Aerogel? Chemical and Physical Properties of Aerogel. One of the best known and most useful physical properties of aerogel is its incredible lightness-it typically has a density between 0.0011 to 0.5 g cm-3, with a typical average of around 0.020 g cm-3.
Which is the lightest solid on earth? Graphene aerogel The lightest solid on Earth. It is so light, it’s said that this material can balance on a Dandelion without even deforming the individual seed heads. Engineering Materials finds out more about this modern day marvel. This is a piece of graphene aerogel – officially the lightest solid material in the world.
Silica aerogel is a good electrical insulator as well as a thermal insulator. Carbon aerogel has a similar low density as well as excellent temperature stability. Some forms of carbon aerogel are reasonably good electrical conductors. Carbon aerogel is available as a solid, as a powder or as composite paper.
They are good conductive insulators because they are composed almost entirely of gases, which are very poor heat conductors. (Silica aerogel is an especially good insulator because silica is also a poor conductor of heat; a metallic or carbon aerogel, on the other hand, would be less effective.)
How strong is graphene Aerogel? The end result is an aerogel that weighs just 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimeter and has truly superb elasticity and absorption. The graphene aerogel can recover completely after more than 90% compression, and absorb up to 900 times its own weight in oil, at a rate of 68.8 grams per second.
What is the melting point of Aerogel? Composed of amorphous Silicon Dioxide and 99.8% air, it’s melting point is 2,200 degrees F (1,200 degrees C). Being the world’s lightest known solid, it weighs only three times that of air (with a density of just 3 milligrams per cubic centimeter). When handled, Aerogel feels like a very light, hard foam.
What is Aerogel and what is its use? Similar silica aerogels were used to insulate the Mars rover. In their earliest days, aerogels were marketed as thickening agents and used in everything from makeup and paint to napalm. They were also used as cigarette filters and insulation for freezers. Everyday Aerogel Uses | HowStuffWorks
To the touch, an inorganic aerogel (such as a silica or metal oxide aerogel) feels something like a cross between a Styrofoam® peanut, that green floral potting foam used for potting fake flowers, and a Rice Krispie®. Unlike wet gels such as Jell-O®, inorganic aerogels are dry, rigid materials and are very lightweight. Aerogel.org » What is Aerogel?
Ultralight ‘Super-Material’ is 10 Times Stronger Than Steel. A new material is incredibly light yet stronger than steel. The new material gets its amazing strength from its unique geometric configuration. A spongy new super-material could be lighter than the flimsiest plastic yet 10 times stronger than steel.
One obstacle to creating these super strong materials is the lack of industrial manufacturing capability for producing them, the researchers said. However, there are ways the material could be produced at larger scales, the scientists said.
For instance, the actual particles could be used as templates that are coated with graphene through chemical vapor deposition; the underlying template could then be eaten or peeled away using chemicals or physical techniques, leaving the graphene gyroid behind, the researchers said.
“The double gyroid is found in a lot of synthetic and biological systems,” Saranathan told LiveScience. “It is found within specialized compartments of both plant and animal cells that have evolved over millions of years of selection for optimal function.”
While double gyroids are common in nature, the butterflies modify these into unique single gyroid structures, which allow all wavelengths of light to pass through except for one, which reflects.
“The size of the gyroid structure is what determines the color,” Saranathan explained. “If you were to shrink the structure it would become bluer, if you were to expand it, it would turn red. You can finely tune the color you want.”
Because of this ability, single gyroids are attractive for use in optics and even in solar energy technology. They are able to create a color that stays true over time and doesn’t fade like a pigment color would.
“In polymer-based photonic crystal engineering the Holy Grail is to produce a material that has a single gyroid structure,” Saranathan said. “Butterflies have been doing it for millions of years. We can use this material in the butterflies as a template to manufacture these single gyroids.”
In the future, massive bridges could be made of gyroid concrete, which would be ultrastrong, lightweight, and insulated against heat and cold because of all the myriad air pockets in the material, the researchers said.
While NASA uses Aspen Aerogels‘ product for cryogenic applications such as launch vehicles, space shuttle applications, life support equipment, and rocket engine test stands, there is an array of commercial industrial applications including pipe insulation, building, and construction, appliances and refrigeration …
Even though producing more aerogel at a time would bring its price down, the process and materials alone come with a high price tag of about $1.00 per cubic centimeter. At about $23,000 per pound, aerogel is currently more expensive than gold [source: NASA JPL, FAQs]!
Aerogel UK Powder is a nanoporous silica aerogel powder with high insulation performance and various applications. The powder is reusable, safe and environmentally friendly.
What is the difference between Aerogel and Xerogel?
Xerogel: is a solid formed from a gel by drying with unhindered shrinkage. … preparation methods: Although both materials are obtained from a hydrogel there are differences in the methods used: the aerogel is obtained by water displacement using a gas at supercritical conditions, whereas the xerogel water is evaporated.
What is a Cryogel? Cryogels are gel matrices that are formed in moderately frozen solutions of monomeric or polymeric precursors. Cryogels typically have interconnected macropores (or supermacropores), allowing unhindered diffusion of solutes of practically any size, as well as mass transport of nano- and even microparticles.
Most of these insulators are quite environmentally friendly, being 100% recyclable, not containing any ozone-depleting substances, and is made of 30% already recycled content. Since most of aerogel is simply air (90-94%), there is not much waste in an aerogel.
Aerogel is a translucent, synthetic solid-state substance with extremely low density and excellent thermal insulating properties. Also known as “frozen smoke,” aerogel in its solid form has a texture similar to that of foamed polystyrene.
Aerogels are the lightest solid materials in existence — a man-sized block (6′ x 2.5′ x2.5′) of the substance weighs less than a pound. However, if evenly dispersed, that one-pound, man-sized block could support the weight of a subcompact car (around 1,000 lbs).
Aerogel is approximately 99.8% air by volume. It does not conduct thermal energy well, it is almost totally opaque to infrared radiation (IR) and it prevents thermal convection by impeding the flow of air. Because of these properties, some engineers and scientists believe aerogel will eventually become prevalent in the manufacture of energy-efficient buildings for use in regions where temperature extremes often occur.
The two most common types of aerogel are derived from silicon and carbon. Aerogels are created by replacing the gel’s liquid content with air or gas of some kind. Heat treatment helps to stabilize the structure and prevent shrinkage. Silica aerogel is a good electrical insulator as well as a thermal insulator. Carbon aerogel has a similar low density as well as excellent temperature stability. Some forms of carbon aerogel are reasonably good electrical conductors. Carbon aerogel is available as a solid, as a powder or as composite paper.
Aerogel was used as an insulating material in the Mars Rover. Other current or potential uses of aerogels include:
- insulating pads to protect users from the heat of laptop computers
- thermally insulating windows
- microchip sand other components where insulating materials with low dielectric constants are required
- pigments for printer ink
- a component of toothpaste
- interception and detection of some high-speed subatomic and cosmic particles
- as an agent for the removal of toxic metals from water
- bullet-proof armor
- as a replacement for paper in loudspeaker cones
- anti-reflective coatings
- lightweight fibers and composites
- super- capacitor carbon electrodes .
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