Issue Date: January 27, 2014
Patent Picks: Aerogels
Aerogels, first described in 1931 by Samuel Kistler, are ultralight, porous, and absorbent materials that were largely ignored until recently. These materials—created by removing the liquid from gels through supercritical fluid drying, a form of evaporation—have seen increased interest because of their low density, thermal insulation properties, and strength. Because of these properties, aerogels are now being considered for applications in the applied sciences and engineering. Information from Chemical Abstracts Service databases suggests that aerogels may be at a tipping point in which more commercial applications are beginning to emerge. Specifically, the number of aerogel patents in CAS databases has increased by more than 500% in just the past 20 years. Some current patented applications are highlighted here.
PatentPicks is a collaborative effort by C&EN and CAS. This feature reports on trends CAS scientists observe in the CAS databases of patents, which now generate more than 70% of the new substances appearing in the literature.
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