Block of aerogel resting on whipped egg white

Block of aerogel resting on whipped egg white

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Credit: LAWRENCE LIVERMORE LABORATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Silica aerogel. Demonstration of the light weight of aerogel (blue) seen here resting on whipped egg whites. Aerogel is a new material which has very high thermal insulation and extremely low mass. It is made by drying a water-based or alcohol-based gel in a superfluid process that prevents the gel from collapsing. The resulting block of linked microscopic fibres contains about 90% air, so is very lightweight, but retains quite a high strength. Aerogel is being studied as a thermal insulator and as a holding medium for nuclear fusion fuel.

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Keywords: aerogel, engineering, frozen smoke, insulator, new materials technology, silica

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