The Chemistry of Aerogel

Introduction

Aerogel is an incredibly light solid, in fact it is the lightest solid known to man. With a density of 3 milligrams per cubic centimeter it’s also a one of the best insulators. There are 3 main types of aerogel which are Silica, Carbon, and Alumina but there are many more that they have tried to use.


I chose Aerogel because I find it very interesting with how light and durable it is. I think in the near future Aerogel will be a commonly used material.


My life has not yet been affected by Aerogel but I think it will be because of how it will be used in the future.


Composition of ...

There are many different types of Aerogels the most common is Silica Aerogel which is made up of Silicon Dioxide (SO2).


Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

With silica aerogels the main two chemicals are silicon and oxygen.  oxygen and silicon bond really well because the oxidation state for silicon is 2+ and for oxygen it 2-There is really no definite structure of most aerogels because the structures are very small but there are a lot of predictions.

Chemistry's Role

Aerogel is a man-made substance, the process of making aerogel is extremely long process the majority of the process is taken by supercritical drying. Supercritical drying is where you get a fluid to its supercritical point which is where the temperature and pressure are at a certain point for the mixture, then you usually run liquid CO2 through it. This extracts all the liquid from the mixture. Which makes tiny pockets of air throughout the solid giving it its low density.


Background Research

Aerogel was invented by Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931 because of a bet. Aerogel has many forms such as Carbon, gold, all the way to resorcinol-formaldehyde polymer aerogel, and much much more. The most common Aerogel is made of Silica. Aerogels are said to be the material of the future, it is being used in the mars rover as a window and to catch “star dust” from a commit.


Resources

https://www.llnl.gov/str/Foxhighlight.html

About the structure of aerogel


http://geobeck.tripod.com/frontier/aerogels.html

Basic info


http://www.geek.com/science/graphene-aerogel-is-worlds-lightest-material-1544025/

Article about how aerogel set the record for the worlds lightest material


http://science.howstuffworks.com/aerogel4.htm

Basic info


https://unitednuclear.com/index.php?cPath=16_17_69&main_page=product_info&products_id=89

Where you can buy aerogels


http://marsrover.nasa.gov/mission/sc_rover_temp_aerogel.html

Info about mars rover window being aerogel


http://www.aerogel.org/

This was my main site i used it had a lot of useful information about every type of aerogel


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerogel

Background research and supercritical drying



About the Author

Brandon Kucera is a Junior at Billings Senior High. He enjoys longboarding, folfing, hanging with friends, fishing, hunting, and most of all Chemistry. He plans on attending Montana State University and then going to Idaho State University and master in Nuclear Engineering.

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