Aerogel

Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas. The result is a solid with extremely low density and low thermal conductivity. Nicknames include frozen smoke, solid smoke, solid air, or blue smoke owing to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material. It feels like fragile expanded polystyrene to the touch. Aerogels can be made from a variety of chemical compounds.

  • Aerogels - the world's lightest solids: International project meeting of NanoHybrids at TUHH

    Aerogel illustration.

    Project meeting of the NanoHybrids EU project on 15 and 16 May 2017 – an important milestone

    The EU research project NanoHybrids, uniting well-known partners from European research and industry, can report its first successes: New methods have been developed for manufacturing organic and hybrid aerogels and they have already been used to produce initial small quantities of organic aerogels. Industry and research partners have cooperated closely to achieve this. Thus significant milestones have already been achieved just 18 months into the EU project.

  • Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets

    Organic particles are ubiquitous in air pollution. The new study reveals when and where these particles are liquid, viscous or solid. The picture shows an extreme haze event over ci. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response

    Glassy solid particles can facilitate long-distance atmospheric transport of hazardous organic pollutants. Secondary organic aerosols (SOA) are formed upon oxidation of volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere. They account for a large fraction of fine particulate matter and have a strong influence on regional and global air quality. Traditionally, SOA particles were assumed to be oily liquid droplets. Depending on chemical composition, temperature, and humidity, however, SOA particles can also adopt a glassy solid phase state, as revealed in recent studies.

  • The Lightest Electromagnetic Shielding Material in the World

    A sample of the electromagnetic shielding material made by Empa – a composite of cellulose nanofibres and silver nanowires. Empa

    Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight. 
    Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic components or the transmission of signals. High-frequency electromagnetic fields can only be shielded with conductive shells that are closed on all sides. Often thin metal sheets or metallized foils are used for this purpose. However, for many applications such a shield is too heavy or too poorly adaptable to the given geometry. The ideal solution would be a light, flexible and durable material with extremely high shielding effectiveness.