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Aerogels are the best insulators in the world. Composed of up to 99.8% air and weighing only three times that of air, they are the lighest and lowest density solids on the planet. Aerogels are also extremely weight and heat resistant, supporting 2,000 times their own weight and having a melting point of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. With a multitude of properties beneficial to a wide range of alternative energy applications, aerogels should see much development and diversification over the coming years.

"Solid substances similar to gels but where the internal liquid is replaced with air. Aerogels are so porous and lightweight that they are sometimes called 'solid smoke' or 'blue smoke'." (Greg Allan; April 13, 2008)



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  • About Aerogel - Aerogel's superlow density makes it useful as a lightweight structural material, and its superhigh internal surface area makes it a superinsulating solid material.

How it Works

"They are typically 50-99.5% air, yet can hold (theoretically) 500 to 4,000 times their weight in applied force. Aerogel can have surface areas ranging from 250 to 3,000 square meters per gram, so in theory, a cubic inch of aerogel flattened out would have more surface area than an entire football field. Aerogel has 15 entries in the Guinness Book of World Records, including best insulator and lowest density solid.

Carbon Aerogels represent one of the lowest density solids available on the market and can be produced as thin films, powders, monoliths, or micro spheres. (Greg Allan; April 13, 2008)

  • Less is more with aerogels - The combination of high porosity and extremely small pores provides aerogels with their extreme properties. Densities of aerogels can be as low as 3 mg/cm3, only a factor of 3 greater than that of air. This directly leads to indexes of refraction as low as 1.01. In addition, because the solid conducts heat only through the exceedingly narrow chains, thermal conductivity can be as low as, or lower than, that of air. (The Industrial Physicist; Oct. - Nov. 2004)


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2.09 Minutes. Aspen Aerogel video presentation

  • A complete presentation of Aspen Aerogel products including interesting tests about extreme aerogel properties. Una presentazione di Aspen Aerogel, dei prodotti e dei test che fanno emergere le incredibili propriet√† dell'Aerogel. (YouTube; May 22, 2008)

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2.15 Minutes. QUEST Lab: Aerogel - KQED QUEST

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.08 Minutes. What happens when aerogel material is hit

  • This slow-motion video demonstrates what happens when a piece of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) made with aerogels is hit by a high-momentum projectile (the momentum is eight times higher than that of a .45-caliber bullet). This video is Nicholas Leventis, professor of chemistry at the University of Missouri-Rolla (Missouri University of Science and Technology) and is used to compare the strength of aerogels to conventional armor-grade PMMA. (see related video, "Shattered!"). Video courtesy of Hongbing Lu, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, at Oklahoma State University. (YouTube; June 14, 2007)

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2.09 Minutes. Aerogel

  • If a room were insulated with aerogel, a candle could heat up the place for hours on end. (YouTube; Dec. 06, 2007)

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7.46 Minutes. Amazing Aerogel by the Brick Brigade

  • The Brick Brigade Team (8 eleven year olds) has made a video about aerogel and its amazing properties. (YouTube; Feb. 10, 2007)

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Nano materials tend to be a hundred or thousand times more expensive than conventional dielectric materials.


  • AirGlass - Internationally, Europe is leading in the field of developing the aerogel process.
  • Aspen Aerogel - The leading provider of aerogels in easy-to-apply blankets and fabricated packages, up to eight times more effective than other insulations. Wherever superior thermal, fire and acoustic barriers are needed, Aspen Aerogels has solutions that save space and weight while increasing overall value and performance.


  • Light as air.
  • Low-density.
  • Heat-resistant.
  • Weight-resistant.
  • High thermal conductivity.
  • Best insulator in the world.
  • Excellent medium for harboring nanotechnologies.


  • High-Temp Insulation
  • Stardust collecting
  • Ultracapacitors



In the News

  • Nanotechnology >
    Carbon Aerogels and Ultracapacitors - This technology will improve ultracapacitors by swapping in carbon nanotubes. This greatly increases the surface area of the electrodes and the ability to store energy because the amount of energy ultracaps can hold is related to the surface area and conductivity of electrodes. So.. since they have a extremely high surface area, carbon aerogels are used to create ultracapacitors with values ranging up to thousands of farads. (Greg Allen; April 13, 2008)
  • Replacing Energy Storage with Carbon Aerogel Supercapacitors - Carbon aerogel supercapacitors are unique because they use aerogel carbon as the active electrode material instead of activated carbon used by other supercapacitors. The carbon aerogel material is known for high purity, highly usable surface area and high electrical conductivity. The result is a very high capacity product that offers extremely low ESR, high energy density, very low leakage current, wide operating temperature range, and nearly infinite charge-discharge cycle life. (Cooper Electronic Technologies; Feb 1, 2003)
  • Aerogels: Much Ado About 'Nothing' - This curious material, composed of as much as 65 to 90 percent air, are the lightest solids ever produced. A six-foot block of it would weigh less than a pound, yet can support 1,500 times its own weight - enough to support a compact car. (Douglas Page; 1998)


See Discussion page


  • Aerogel - Aerogel was first created by Steven Kistler in 1931, as a result of a bet with Charles Learned over who could replace the liquid inside a jam (jelly) jar with gas without causing shrinkage.
  • Chalcogel - preferentially absorb heavy metals, showing promise in absorbing mercury, lead, and cadmium from water.
  • Hydrogels - Hydrogels possess a degree of flexibility very similar to natural tissue, due to their significant water content.
  • Nanogel - Nanogel is the lightest insulation solid in the world.
  • SEAgel - SEAgel was invented by Robert Morrison at the [[Wikipedia:Lawrence_Livermore_National_LaboratoryLawrence|Livermore National Laboratory] in 1992. SEAgel is made of agar, a carbohydrate material that comes from kelp and red algae, and contains only forty to fifty milligrams of material per cubic centimeter of solid (in other words, it has a density of 40-50 mg/cm3). SEAgel is also completely biodegradable, as it is made entirely of biological material.
  • Sol Gel - Sol-gel derived materials have diverse applications in optics, electronics, energy, space, (bio)sensors, medicine (e.g. controlled drug release) and separation (e.g. chromatography) technology.
  • Xerogels - Heat treatment of a xerogel at elevated temperature produces viscous sintering (shrinkage of the xerogel due to a small amount of viscous flow) and effectively transforms the porous gel into a dense glass.

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