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Aerogels

The graphene aerogel can be supported by blades of grass

Not even a year after it claimed the title of the world’s lightest material, aerographite has been knocked off its crown by a new aerogel made from graphene. Created by a research team from China’s Zhejiang University in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering lab headed by Professor Gao Chao, the ultra-light aerogel has a density lower than that of helium and just twice that of hydrogen.  Read More

Flexible sheets of NASA's new polymer aerogel. A sheet this thick would provide thermal in...

Often called "frozen smoke", aerogels are among the amazing materials of our time, with fifteen Guinness Book of World Records entries to their name. However, despite their list of extreme properties, traditional aerogels are brittle, crumbling and fracturing easily enough to keep them out of many practical applications. A new class of mechanically robust polymer aerogels discovered at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio may soon enable engineering applications such as super-insulated clothing, unique filters, refrigerators with thinner walls, and super-insulation for buildings.  Read More

Tiny fibers in the new aerogel serve the same purpose as tiny hairs on the water strider's...

Aerogels are among the lightest solid materials in existence, and are created by replacing the liquid component of a gel with a gas – this results in their extremely low density, and has earned them the nickname of “frozen smoke.” Now, scientists have created a new type of aerogel that is inspired by the feet of the water strider. The material is reportedly so buoyant, that a boat made from one pound (454 grams) of it could carry about 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of cargo.  Read More

Mountain Hardwear's Dry.Q water-proof breathable fabric is among a new breed of sporting a...

A new dawn is breaking in the evolution of outdoor apparel technology. Many materials that dominate today's outdoor clothes - wool and down, for instance - have been plucked straight from nature for hundreds of years. While textile manufacturers and clothing companies have tried to improve upon natural designs, they've generally failed to come up with anything that unequivocally surpasses Mother Nature. Just beyond the action videos and gear shops though, an improved generation of materials with the potential to displace stale staples is slowly moving from test labs to retail shelves. If these materials can brave the real world and live up to the hype, outdoor apparel - and outdoor sports - will look very different in the future.  Read More

Frozen smoke is the world's lightest solid material

Researchers have created a new aerogel that boasts amazing strength and an incredibly large surface area. Nicknamed ‘frozen smoke’ due to its translucent appearance, aerogels are manufactured materials derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas, resulting in a material renowned as the world’s lightest solid material. The new so-called “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” could be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components.  Read More

Underfoot insulation using nanotech

December 21, 2005 The human body needs warmth and the areas in which we feel the cold first are naturally enough those which are at the extremities – hands and feet. The feet are particularly vulnerable in arctic climates as they are continually in contact with very cold surfaces. Accordingly, the advanced nanotech underfoot insulation offered by ToastyFeet insole liners from Polar Wrap. Most insulation requires loft but when you step on it, it gets compressed and loses its loft and therefore its insulating power. Aerogel doesn't require loft as it contains nanometer-sized pockets of air that can maintain thermal protection and shape even when you step on it. In partnership with NASA, this same flexible aerogel technology is being developed for next generation space suits but you can get it now and keep your feet toasty warm. We've written about numerous applications for aerogel technology including a translucent roofing system and about the origination of the world's lightest solid.  Read More

The world’s lightest solid finds myriad other applications

November 29, 2005 When we first wrote about aerogel, we treated it as somewhat of a technological novelty. Aerogel is 99.8% air and 1,000 times less dense than glass yet it can withstand high temperature, delivering 39 times more insulation than the best fibreglass. This exotic substance was invented in the 1930s but has been refined by NASA in recent times for the purpose of catching space-dust. Now it has been recognised that aerogel’s unique properties are in fact very applicable to some of man’s greatest challenges. Its unique nanostructure offers higher electrochemical surface areas, better mass transport, reduced or eliminated ionic contamination and price competitiveness – in short, lower cost and higher performance compared to current membranes on the market, making it ideal as a high performance electro-catalyst for fuel cells, non-electro-catalysts for emissions control, and aerogel materials for energy storage.  Read More

A 2.5 kg brick is supported by a piece of aerogel with a mass of only 2 grams

Aerogel is 99.8% air and 1,000 times less dense than glass yet it can withstand high temperature, is robust enough to survive a space launch and delivers 39 times more insulation than the best fibreglass. This exotic substance was invented in the 1930s but recently refined by NASA for the purpose of catching space-dust, Aerogel was used on the Mars Pathfinder rover and its latest assignment is to capture both cometary samples and interstellar particles aboard the Stardust mission.  Read More

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