LAWRENCE LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABORATORY / UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAWRENCE LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABORATORY / UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A sample of Aerogel, demonstrating its transparency and strength. Aerogel is a new material consisting of microscopic fibres of silica, and is under development at the Lawrence Livermore National 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". The sample here weighs about 0.7 gramme, yet is supporting a 100g weight. Aerogel is being studied for its insulating properties and as a particle collecting medium for future space flights.
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