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Materials

Chemistry in Pictures: Almost weightless

by Alexandra Taylor
March 14, 2019

 

20190314lnp20-almostweightless.jpg
Credit: Science

This ceramic aerogel is so lightweight that it can balance atop a flower’s stamen. The delicate material can hold its own at high temperatures: it maintains its strength when heated to about 1,400 °C in a vacuum or when repeatedly heated to 900 °C and cooled to –198 °C. A team led by the University of California, Los Angeles’s Yu Huang and Xiangfeng Duan and the Harbin Institute of Technology’s Hui Li created the aerogel by building a graphene template, upon which they deposited a thin layer of hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN). They then oxidized the graphene away, leaving behind a network of h-BN with double-pane walls. Because of its architecture, the aerogel is chemically stable and can maintain its structure in corrosive environments, making it an ideal component for heat shields on spacecraft.

To read more about this material, check out the story by Bethany Halford.

Credit: Science

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