Aerogel disc, showing optical characteristics

Aerogel disc, showing optical characteristics

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Credit: US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: A disc of Aerogel, demonstrating its transparency and image-preserving optical qualities. Aerogel is a new material consisting of microscopic fibres of silica, and is under development at the Lawrence Livermore Berkeley Laboratory, California. It is made by starting with a silica gel, then treating it with chemicals and heat to remove alcohols and water. Its extreme lightness and transparency has led to it being dubbed "frozen smoke". Aerogel is being investigated for its insulating properties, and also by NASA as a means of collecting microscopic particles travelling in space.

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Keywords: aerogel, engineering, frozen smoke, insulation material, new materials technology

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