Scientist holding samples of aerogels

Scientist holding samples of aerogels

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Credit: PETER MENZEL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Scientist with discs of aerogel. The cloudy white disc is silica aerogel, whilst the red disc is an aerogel containing fibres of an organic material. 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. Aerogel is being studied as a thermal insulator and as a holding medium for nuclear fusion fuel. Photographed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA.

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

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