For decades to protect industrialand scientific instruments from high temperatures used ceramic aerogels. They are able to easily withstand extreme heat and still maintain lightness and strength, but with each thermal effect they lose their elasticity and become brittle. Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles took it up to fix this problem, and they succeeded. The strength, lightness and other outstanding properties of the new material have been proven in several experiments.
The material consists of thin layers of ceramicmaterial from boron nitride. Its atoms form a hexagonal structure and resemble a wire mesh. Unlike other similar materials, the new type of airgel does not expand when heated and mechanically affected, but rather compresses perpendicularly to the direction of pressure. It is 99% air, which explains its record lightness.
The response of the material to compression can be explained ona simple example: if you squeeze a tennis ball, its sides bulge on the sides. In the case of airgel, all of his parties are pushing themselves inside. The material can be compressed to 5% of its full volume - after that it quickly returns its original shape.
Resistance to temperature changes has been proven.during two tests. During the first test, the airgel was placed in a container with a rapidly changing temperature from -198 ° C to +900 ° C and vice versa. The second test implied storage in a container with a temperature of +1400 ° C - it lost only 1% of its original strength.
According to lead author of the study XiangfengDuan, soon they will be able to adapt the material for use in spacecraft, cars and other equipment. It will be useful for protection against sudden fluctuations in temperature, and for storing heat and even filtering.
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