US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aerogel on the hand of a researcher. Aerogel is a silicon-based solid comprising up to 99.9% air, commonly referred to as 'frozen smoke'. It is lightweight (1000 times less dense than glass) and a very effective insulator (39 times more so than fibreglass). Potential applications of aerogel include components of spacecraft and space stations, in sensors to detect chemical warfare agents, or as super insulation between window panes. NASA has used aerogel to trap tiny particles of space dust for research. In 2003 aerogel is the lightest solid in the world.
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