November 2000

Silica Aerogels at Berkley National Laboratory flower.gif (9702 octets)

The Aerogel web site of the Berkley National laboratory is part of the web site of the "Microstrured Materials group"

 "The Microstructured Materials Group at Berkeley Lab was formed in 1981 by Dr. Arlon Hunt. The initial focus of the group involved the study of small particles as an energy absorbing medium for solar-thermal systems. The reappearance of aerogels in research circles presented an obvious opportunity to extend the ongoing solar energy program to a new class of materials. For several years, the group studies the fundamental chemistry and physics of the preparation of silica aerogels. A major advance came in 1983, with the development of the CO2 substitution/drying process.  Aerogel work has continued, with recent developments including new methods for forming composite aerogels via chemical vapor infiltration, processes leading to photoluminecsent silica aerogels, theoretical and experimental studies of the thermal conductivity of aerogels, investigation into the effects of microgravity of gel formation, and silica aerogels as kinetic-energy absorbing materials."

Navigation across the site content is simple and efficient.  All available information is presented at one page (home page) which link you directly to various topics including a nice page on aerogels history recently enhanced by a biography of the father of Aerogels Samuel Stephens Kistler compiled and written by Michael Ayers. 
Physical, optical, thermal and mechanical properties of silica aerogels are presented together with a description of their surface chemistry and pore structure. 

You want to make one at home? Non problem. Click on the page "how aerogels are made" and you will have all the details for doing it. If the glossary used is esoteric for you, a definition of terms is provided at the beginning of the page with a brief description of the chemistry involved.
Although not updated, you will find also a list of  bibliographic references and links to academic groups and commercial sites on aerogels.

Additional Links

Home page

The life and Science of Samuel Stephens Kistler
A Brief History of Silica Aerogels
Thermal Properties
Mechanical Behavior
Aerogels preparation
Silica Aerogels - Nanocomposites
Physical Properties
Aerogels pore Structure
Aerogels Surface Chemistry
Aerogels Optical Properties

Aerogel Photo Gallery