Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Lightweight Materials May Yield Safer Buildings, Longer-Lasting Tires

Date:
September 12, 2002
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers say they have developed the world's strongest, lightest solids. Called aerogels, the sturdy materials are a high-tech amalgam of highly porous glass and plastic that is as light as air. In light of the events of Sept. 11 and a heightened interest in homeland security, these new materials show promise as lightweight body armor for soldiers, shielding for armored vehicles, and stronger building materials, the researchers say.

Researchers say they have developed the world's strongest, lightest solids. Called aerogels, the sturdy materials are a high-tech amalgam of highly porous glass and plastic that is as light as air. In light of the events of Sept. 11 and a heightened interest in homeland security, these new materials show promise as lightweight body armor for soldiers, shielding for armored vehicles, and stronger building materials, the researchers say.

The materials could also be used for better window insulation, longer-lasting tires, and lighter, safer aircraft and space vehicles, they say.

A study describing these materials is scheduled to appear in the September 12 print issue of Nano Letters, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

"We took the lightest material available and made it 100 times stronger, giving us the strongest, lightest material known to man," says Nicholas Leventis, Ph.D., a chemist with the University of Missouri-Rolla and a chief author of the paper. "Our material appears promising for practically any application that requires lightweight, strong materials."

Aerogels were originally developed in the 1930s. They remained a curiosity until the 1960s, when scientists began to consider them as a medium for storing liquid rocket fuel. The first aerogels were made of silica and had a chemical composition identical to glass. Although lightweight, aerogels have, until now, been extremely brittle and have absorbed moisture easily, which limited their practical applications.

In an effort to improve upon the strength of these materials, Leventis and his associates decided to weave together strings of tiny particles of silica (glass) with polyurethane (a plastic. The resulting material, however, still remained too brittle.

The researchers then decided to cross-link (tie together chemically) the strings of the nano-sized glass particles with polyisocyanate, one of the two components of polyurethane. Like earlier aerogels, the resulting materials were almost as light as air. But the new chemical approach resulted in aerogels that were 100 times more resistant to breakage, and almost totally insensitive to moisture compared with the original version of aerogels made of plain silica.

Aerogels are also known for their high resistance to heat transfer, making them promising as insulating materials. In the near future, the new aerogel nanocomposites will probably appear in insulated windows, refrigerators and thermoses, Leventis predicts.

Other possibilities include more impact-resistant automobile bumpers and stronger, lighter armored vests. The new material can also store liquid fuel, making it useful for safer, more impact-resistant fuel tanks for aircraft and fuel transport vehicles. It can also be used for building lighter, more efficient frames for airplanes and spacecraft, according to the researchers.

The researchers have recently filed patents on their new aerogel technology. Leventis and his associates plan to make aerogels even stronger in the near future.

A few companies are developing aerogels commercially. Despite their fragility, some plain-silica aerogels are already in use on spacecraft to collect cosmic dust for analysis. They are also part of the instrumentation that measures radiation produced within nuclear reactors.

Funding for this research was provided by The Petroleum Research Fund, which is administered by the American Chemical Society.

Leventis' colleagues in this study were Chariklia Sotiriou-Leventis, Ph.D., and graduate students Guohui Zhang, and Abdel-Monem M. Rawashdeh.

Nicholas Leventis, Ph.D., is an associate professor of chemistry in the department of chemistry at the University of Missouri-Rolla.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "New Lightweight Materials May Yield Safer Buildings, Longer-Lasting Tires." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020912070234.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2002, September 12). New Lightweight Materials May Yield Safer Buildings, Longer-Lasting Tires. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020912070234.htm
American Chemical Society. "New Lightweight Materials May Yield Safer Buildings, Longer-Lasting Tires." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020912070234.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins