Aerogel has come a long way since this site was launched. For the latest on aerogels, check out Aerogel.org, an open-source aerogel project. On Aerogel.org you will find:
For the latest on zero-g aerogel research, check out the MIT Zero-G Team and the zero-g aerogel page on Aerogel.org.
- A complete encyclopedic reference about aerogels
- Instructions on how to make aerogels of different types
- A how-to guide for building a supercritical dryer/autoclave/manuclave
- Tons of pictures of aerogels
- A podcast featuring the world's top aerogel scientists
- and much more!
Talk about some extreme chemistry! As if aerogel weren't exciting enough, here we are in our fourth year of making the world's lowest density solid in zero-gravity. So what's the big deal? Why have we endured the gut-wrenching environment of NASA's KC-135A over and over? Why do we go to such extremes to make this stuff in zero-gravity?
Because aerogel has the potential to revolutionize everything from your winter jacket to surfboards to computers, and aerogels made in zero-gravity are materials like nothing else.
Aerogel is an incredibly valuable material. With the lowest thermal conductivity of any solid material and being so light, aerogel has tremendous potential for dozens of applications--everything from better refrigerators to cheaper satellites.
The next decade of spaceflight will introduce the first self-assembling spacecraft--probes sent to space in pieces that can put themselves together in zero-gravity. Being able to insulate those probes and their electronics from the harsh extremes of space will be of paramount importance. And what better to do the job than aerogel?
Learning how to make aerogel in zero-gravity will allow for new possibilities in spacecraft assembly, and may even allow for a way to repair thermal protection shields in orbit.
Additionally, we've seen from our last few experiments that the structure of aerogels derived from gels grown in zero-gravity is different from the structure of aerogels derived from gels formed in 1 G. Understanding how those differences translate into material properties is important for understanding how to tailor aerogel in space.
And if you thought what we've done so far was cool, wait until you see what we've got in store!
We have just been granted to fly another experiment on NASA's KC-135A Reduced Gravity Laboratory in July 2004. We are in the beginning stages of our next generation project--direct synthesis of aerogel in zero-gravity. Start to finish, aerogel in 23 seconds on NASA's KC-135A. That's some extreme chemistry.
Look for us on TechTV in August 2004!
This research wouldn't be possible without the continued contributions of many individuals. Thanks y'all!
The Reduced Gravity Office at Johnson Space Center
Fred Best and the Space Science Engineering Center
The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
Professor Bob West
Professor Claude Woods
Dr. Pam Doolittle
Feel free to email us with any questions.
Domande sull'aerogeli? Scrivanoi una posta elettronica in italiano!
Y para los hispanoparlantes, ¡contestamos preguntas en español también!
Copyright (c) 2003, 2009 Stephen Steiner.