Find all your DIY electronics in the MakerShed. 3D Printing, Kits, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Books & more!

aerogela.jpg
I have always wanted some Aerogel, and I am not sure why? Maybe just to hold something that is 99.8% air, or to try and figure out something to make with it. NASA seems to have found some uses for the amazing stuff. They have been successful in collecting cosmic dust samples, and insulating the Mars Pathfinder rover.

Aerogel can be very expensive and the prices vary greatly across Internet. Recently I found a relatively low cost supplier. You can get granular samples from United Nuclear for as little as $5. If you purchase a sample and make something cool, don’t forget to post it in the MAKE Flickr photo pool. – Link

More information about Aerogel:

  • Wikipedia – Link
  • Youtube video – Link

Marc de Vinck

I’m currently working full time as the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University. I’m also an avid product designer, kit maker, author, father, tinkerer, and member of the MAKE Technical Advisory board.


Related

Comments

  1. s1200 says:

    united nuclear is an interesting site. apparently (though i havent researched this thoroughly), you can purchase stuff that is wildly illegal in most places. dunno how that works…

  2. Ross says:

    You won’t be able to purchase anything that’s illegal in the US from United Nuclear. They also know state laws and will not sell you something that’s illegal to ship or sell in the state where you live.

    Specifically, the radioactive sources are tiny, and are of a quantity that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows for sale without documentation.

    So, yes you can buy some Polonium 210, the same stuff used to kill a Russian ex-spy, but no, you won’t be able to buy much of it. A fraction of a milligram.

  3. John Cabrer says:

    HOW TO MAKE AEROGEL
    SINGLE-STEP BASE
    CATALYZED SILICA AEROGEL
    This will produce an aerogel with a density of
    approx. 0.08 g/cm3. The gel time should be 60-
    120 minutes, depending on temperature.
    Mix two solutions:
    • Silica solution containing 50 mL of TEOS,
    40 mL of ethanol
    • Catalyst solution containing 35 mL of ethanol,
    70 mL of water, 0.275 mL of 30% aqueous
    ammonia, and 1.21 mL of 0.5 M ammonium
    fluoride.
    • Slowly add the catalyst solution to the silica
    solution with stirring.
    • Pour the mixture into an appropriate mold until
    gelation.
    TWO-STEP ACID-BASE
    CATALYZED SILICA AEROGEL
    This will produce an aerogel with a density of
    approx. 0.08 g/cm3. The gel time should be 30-
    90 minutes, depending on temperature.
    Mix two solutions:
    • Silica solution containing 50 mL of
    precondensed silica (Silbond H-5, or
    equivalent), 50mL of ethanol
    • Catalyst solution containing 35 mL of ethanol,
    75 mL of water, and 0.35 mL of 30% aqueous
    ammonia.
    • Slowly add the catalyst solution to the silica
    solution with stirring.
    • Pour the mixture into an appropriate mold until
    gelation.

    1. jason schrieber says:

      you also need to supercritical dry your gel…dnt forget that step all you scientist lol.

  4. wackyvorlon says:

    Part of the problem with silica aerogel production is supercritical drying. It requires enormous pressures to make it work. There is, however, some very promising work being with vanadium aerogels that don’t require supercritical drying.

  5. Aerogel.org says:

    Aerogel.org has a much more in-depth guide for making aerogels of different types and even how to build a supercritical dryer!

    Recipes:
    http://www.aerogel.org/?cat=41

    Building a supercritical dryer:
    http://www.aerogel.org/?cat=33