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Aerogels: Multifunctional Modern Materials

Our research group, led by Prof. Dr. Barbara Milow, is working on the synthesis of highly porous, open-pored and nanostructured materials, the so-called aerogels. Their stable gels are produced through sol-gel processes, followed by a drying step with no structural damage and nearly shrinkage-free. The resulting air-filled aerogels have a very high porosity of over 90 % with a high specific surface area of 100 to more than 3000 m²/g, and a very high surface-to-volume ratio. This, in addition to low density and open pores, results in properties such as high sound absorption or extremely low thermal conductivity, making them very attractive materials with applications in many different areas, e.g. as super insulation materials in the aerospace, automotive and building technology industries. 

Aerogels can be made of many materials, as seen on the left side, and further discussed in the other sections:

  • Inorganic aerogels, e.g. from metals, metal oxides, metal chalkogenides and especially silicon oxide (top) and carbon (bottom right)
  • Biopolymere aerogels, e.g. from polysaccharides, proteines or cellulose
  • Organic aerogels, e.g. from resorcin- or melamin-formaldehyd (bottom left)
  • Aerogel composites, e.g. fibre or honeycomb reinforced and hybrid materials like aerogel-concrete (middle)