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Aerogels – Light Solids with Heavy Impacts

Portrait of graduate student Jose Garcia, speaker
Jose Garcia
Graduate Student, Department of Chemistry
University of Georgia
Science Learning Center, Room 345
Materials Chemistry and Nanoscience Seminar

First discovered nearly 100 years ago when Samuel Kistler successfully dried silica gel without collapsing its structure, aerogels are a class of materials which contain some of the lightest solids ever synthesized. Today, many types of aerogels exist and can differ by the starting material or drying process, but overall, each are composed of the same interconnected nanostructured framework. Additionally, they are recognized for having extraordinary properties, such as extremely low thermal conductivity, low density, and high porosity, among many more. These record-holding traits make aerogels exceptional hydrophilic and flame-retardant materials, warranting applications in environmental remediation and the aerospace industry as a component of heat shields for spacecrafts. The aims of this presentation are to highlight the unique chemistry underlying what it takes to make an aerogel, and to explore some unexpected fields of research that are incorporating them in their work.

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