MIT and NASA engineers demonstrate a new kind of airplane wing

A team of engineers has built and tested a radically new kind of airplane wing, assembled from hundreds of tiny identical pieces. The wing can change shape to control the plane's flight, and could provide a significant boost ...

Now you see heat, now you don't

Hiding an object from heat-sensing cameras could be useful for military and technology applications as well as for research. Efforts to develop such a method have been underway for decades with varying degrees of success. ...

Rubbery carbon aerogels greatly expand applications

Researchers have designed carbon aerogels that can be reversibly stretched to more than three times their original length, displaying elasticity similar to that of a rubber band. By adding reversible stretchability to aerogels' ...

Researchers turn fashion waste into multifunctional material

A research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has devised a fast, cheap and green method to convert cotton-based fabric waste, such as unwanted clothing, into highly compressible and ...

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Aerogel

Aerogel is a synthetic porous 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 thermal conductivity. It is nicknamed frozen smoke, solid smoke, solid air or blue smoke owing to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material; however, it feels like expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) to the touch.

Aerogel was first created by Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931, as a result of a bet with Charles Learned over who could replace the liquid in 'jellies' with gas without causing shrinkage.

Aerogels are produced by extracting the liquid component of a gel through supercritical drying. This allows the liquid to be slowly drawn off without causing the solid matrix in the gel to collapse from capillary action, as would happen with conventional evaporation. The first aerogels were produced from silica gels. Kistler's later work involved aerogels based on alumina, chromia and tin oxide. Carbon aerogels were first developed in the late 1980s.

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