Air Alloy: a New Type of Aerogel, a Magic Material
What is Air Alloy
Aerogel, as the lightest solid in the world, has been favored by many scientists in recent years. As a solid substance, aerogel is the least dense solid in the world. The lightest aerogel has a mass of 0.16mg/ m3, one-sixth the density of air and lighter than air. As the world's lightest solid, it has been included in the Guinness Book of World Records. And recently, scientists developed a new aerogel -- air alloy, this material has high strength, durability, weight ultra-light, designability and other characteristics, the most important is this material has super insulation performance, which has special significance for the research and development of thermal insulation materials and aerospace field.
The Birth of Air Alloy
Aerogels have been around for a while, but innovation has made aerogel technology more sophisticated and useful. Aerogel is a kind of low density solid material. It can be obtained by extracting liquid from colloid by supercritical drying process. Common aerogels are silicon aerogels, but this material is very brittle. After years of research, NASA scientists and some companies have developed a new product -- air alloy.
The air alloy has the high strength and durability of traditional plastics, and just 6mm aerogel is bulletproof. It is also light weight, and the super-insulation found in aerogels is the biggest advantage of this product. The reason this material is so promising is that it is so designable. Air alloys have extremely low density, which makes them the lightest solid materials on earth. In addition to this low density property, the material has super insulating properties and extreme material strength. The polymer materials based on the air alloy can carry more than 20,000 times their own weight.
Scientists were shocked by the material's super insulation, which gradually made it possible to make thin, light insulation. The material can insulate not only temperature, but also sound. In fact, as a sound insulator, this material is 100 to 1,000 times better than other products on the market.
Preparation of Aerogel
Since it is so powerful, is it difficult to make? In fact, conventional aerogels are relatively easy to obtain: First, pour methanol and sodium tetrasilicate into a container according to a certain ratio, and mix them with a stirrer. Then pour the mixture into a beaker and add some more water and methanol. Add a kind of catalyst concentrated ammonia water and mix well again. Put this liquid in a container and wait for the liquid to slowly solidify. Then before it is completely dry. Pour it into methanol. Then dry it with a special method. Convert wet gel into aerogel. Many chemical solvents and specific equipment are used in the drying process. It also requires heating and pressurizing operations. After the production is completed, we can get the aerogel we want.
Air Alloys Hold Great Promise
The mechanical and structural properties of this material are gradually evolving, and it can even be made transparent to allow daylight in, without compromising insulation. The future of the material is in the hands of engineers and designers who work ceaselessly to find more uses for the material. Many commercial aerogel companies have been set up, and there is even a company that will make high-quality jackets out of modified aerogel.