The Blog

New Technology for Making Strong Aerogels of Any Size Paves Way to 10x Lighter Plastics

Researchers at Boston-based Aerogel Technologies, LLC have developed a new technique that, for the first time, enables production of aerogel parts with plastic-like durability in theoretically unlimited dimensions.  This new approach opens the possibility of using aerogels for a wide range of new applications at price points that the company projects will soon be cost-competitive with performance plastics like polycarbonate.

Aerogels are traditionally made using a technique called supercritical drying—a high-pressure process also used in decaffeinating coffee and green dry cleaning performed in expensive stainless steel reactors.  But just as a pizza is limited to the size of an oven, to date aerogels have been limited to size of the supercritical dryers used to make them, meaning parts no bigger than about 60 cm x 60 cm.  This has greatly limited potential applications and has made scaling production extremely costly.  Using their new technique, which the company calls the Stelmakh process, Aerogel Technologies has produced a whopping 90 cm x 90 cm aerogel panel, making it the world’s largest aerogel to date.  The aerogel, made of a proprietary polymer, weighed in at an impressive 7x lighter than typical plastics.  Unlike traditional aerogel production, the new manufacturing technique developed by Aerogel Technologies is performed at ambient conditions eliminating the need for a pressure vessel and enabling production of aerogel parts of theoretically unlimited dimensions.  Aerogel Technologies is already producing 30 cm panels using this technology available for purchase at pre-scale prices through their website  The company is currently scaling the process to produce panels up to 2 m x 3 m in thicknesses up to 5 cm.

Picture of World's Largest Aerogel

World’s largest aerogel to date made using new drying technology invented by Aerogel Technologies, LLC.

Stephen Steiner | January 20th, 2018 | No Comments »

Fourth International Seminar on Aerogels September 24-26 Hamburg, Germany

The Fourth International Seminar on Aerogels will be held this September 24-26 in Hamburg, Germany at the Hamburg University of Technology.  This is the fourth installment of this conference series and last time had over 175 attendees.  This year promises to be even bigger and better and will showcase the latest in the rapidly growing field of aerogels.

For more information visit the official conference site below.

Hamburg University of Technology where the Fourth International Seminar on Aerogels will be held September 24-26 , 2018 in Hamburg, Germany.

Stephen Steiner | January 20th, 2018 | No Comments »

At Last–Large, Strong Aerogel Panels are Commercially Available

People have been hearing about mechanically strong aerogels such as x-aerogels and strong organic aerogels like polyimide aerogels along with all of their promise for use as ultralightweight structures, dust-free superinsulation, and science-fiction-y applications for some time now.   Small samples of strong aerogels have been commercially available for the past couple years, but nothing much bigger than the size of a playing card, or the back panel of a Google Nexus 7 tablet, meaning there has not been a whole lot of movement using these materials for improving building efficiency, making ultralight cars, or building what we all really care about deep down inside, flying cars and hoverboards–applications where ultralight materials could have a significant on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and saving fuel costs.

One-foot (30-cm) Airloy X103 strong aerogel panel balancing a PTFE plastic tile of the same mass. Image courtesy Aerogel Technologies.

Well good news.  Aerogel Technologies today announced that they are now manufacturing large (one-foot, 30-cm) panels on its new pilot line, and that these panels are soon to be followed by even larger panels.  The company plans to market these materials as lightweight replacements for plastics for use anywhere weight and cost are coupled, for example, in cars, planes, and refrigerated trucks.

Strong aerogel panels made of Airloy X103, a high-strength organic aerogel that is stable to about 80°C, are being made available on  Other formulations including new high-temperature Airloy X114 are soon to follow.

Visit to buy large Airloy panels now.

Stephen Steiner | August 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

New High-Temperature Strong Aerogels Commercially Available

Aerogel Technologies has released a new high-temperature, high-strength machinable aerogel material called Airloy X114 which is stable up to 300°C and has the strength and durability of a plastic but is three times lighter.  They’re apparently good at sound damping too.  Aerogel Technologies says applications include insulating engine compartments, ovens,, and rocket parts.  Samples of Airloy X114 are available for purchase on

Airloy X114 high-temperature strong aerogel from Aerogel Technologies goes up to 300°C, is strong like a plastic, and three times lighter than plastic.

Stephen Steiner | August 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »

Aerogel Jacket Kickstarter Campaign

The team at Lukla Apparel has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their new aerogel jackets.  Lighter and less bulky than traditional aerogel jackets, their Endeavor jacket was designed for back-country skiing, which has high technical demands and in which people need to keep warm and comfortable for long periods of time.  I had the chance to talk with the Lukla team recently and they’ve done some great work looking at how to integrate aerogel blankets into an aerogel jacket while still making it comfortable, not dusty, and washable.  Check out their Kickstarter campaign and help them raise $100,000.

Stephen Steiner | March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

When Stardust Launched NASA Had No Way to Extract Particles from Aerogel

Amusing story on–when NASA launched its Stardust probe, the satellite that followed comet Wild-2 (say “Vilt-Too”) and captured its comet dust with a “catcher’s mitt” made of aerogel, they had no way to extract the comet particles from the aerogel.  Silica aerogels like the ones used on the Stardust probe are extremely brittle and machining it using normal techniques causes it to fracture unpredictably.  I can corroborate this–at one point before Stardust returned, NASA reached out to me personally (as they did many aerogel researchers) to ask if I had any experience cutting aerogels!  All’s well that ends well–the ingenious team at NASA developed a method using a high-frequency vibrating microscopic needle to extract the comet particles from the aerogel in time to make use of the samples that were returned, making Stardust one of the most successful sample return missions of all time.

We had the chance to sit down for a podcast several years ago with the mission’s PI, NASA JPL’s Dr. Peter Tsou.  Listen to the amazing story of Stardust here.

Stephen Steiner | August 23rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Update on Aspen Aerogels IPO

Just a quick update from NYSE-Euronext on the Aspen Aerogels IPO–looks like Aspen Aerogels is planning on raising $115M, offering 6.7M shares at a price of $14-$16/share.

Read more about it here.


Stephen Steiner | June 6th, 2014 | No Comments »

Google Nexus 7 Body Made from Aerogel

For everyone who still thinks aerogels are blue and brittle, think again!  The engineers at Aerogel Technologies have recently released a video of an ultralight Google Nexus 7 body made out of a mechanically strong aerogel called Airloy X103-H.  In the video, they compare the back panel of the Nexus 7, composed of ABS/PC composite (that’s acrylonitrile butadiene styrene/polycarbonate composite, the standard non-descript plastic used to make laptop bodies and other consumer electronics) weighing in at 42 g, and the same panel made out of Airloy X103-H, weighing in at only 18 g. And this isn’t 1980’s aerogel either–it’s strong, somewhat flexible, and feels like plastic.  Take a look!

Stephen Steiner | June 6th, 2014 | 6 Comments »

Aspen Aerogels Files for IPO

Exciting news in the aerogel industry! Aspen Aerogels, the world’s leading manufacturer of aerogel insulation, has filed for an initial public offering of its common stock.  Aspen, which expects to trade under the stock symbol “ASPN” on the New York Stock Exchange, is looking to raise a maximum of $86.25M with this initial offering.  Aspen’s aerogel blankets are unparalleled in the industry and are widely recognized as the world’s best thermal insulation next to vacuum insulating panels, however unlike VIPs Aspen’s blankets aren’t susceptible to popping, are flexible, and can be easily cut and sewn.  Aspen’s products include Pyrogel XT-E, a flexible high-temperature insulating blanket used to insulate pipelines in refineries, Cryogel Z, a superinsulating blanket used for cryogenic tanks, and Spaceloft, a superinsulating blanket used for building and construction.   Spaceloft, for example, has an R-value greater than 9.5 per inch, making it over three times better insulating per unit thickness than fiberglass and almost two times better insulating than polyurethane foam. This isn’t the first time Aspen’s filed for an IPO.  Aspen originally filed for an IPO on June 24, 2011 with the intent of raising $115M on the NASDAQ exchange, later retracted the filing, possibly due to an unfortunate coincident global downturn in construction.  However, with the economy recovering and Aspen’s products being increasingly adopted, now is the perfect time for an Aspen IPO.  Aspen reports that 24 of the world’s top 25 refineries use their products, an economic case that is not hard to understand.  Incredibly, today only 20% of pipelines in refineries are insulated–in an industry where energy = $ this is a pretty astounding figure!  The reason being, however, is that traditional insulation is very difficult to install and maintain.  Fiberglass, for example, entrains moisture underneath causing corrosion of the underlying pipe (corrosion under insulation or CUI) and can be easily damaged when walked on.  Aspen’s products are hydrophobic, meaning they repel water, eliminating CUI.  Additionally, their materials are quite sturdy and resistant to compression, and, unlike foams, don’t crush and lose their insulating ability when walked on.

Aspen won’t be the only public company manufacturing aerogels–Cabot Corporation (NYSE:CBT) also manufactures aerogel materials in both particle and insulating blanket form.  Cabot’s and Aspen’s products are quite different, however, and provide complementary functions for different applications.  Regardless, with Aspen joining the ranks of other publicly-traded companies, it is an exciting time for the commercialization of aerogel.

Read the S-1 filing hereTry Aspen’s products out yourself here.

Stephen Steiner | April 28th, 2014 | No Comments »

Valentine Aerogels!

The team at Aerogel Technologies has come up with a new monolithic aerogel product that integrates optically-active materials into an aerogel architecture, demonstrates aerogel shape control, and attracts the opposite sex all in the same material envelope.  Indeed, pink-heart shaped aerogels are now available on

Although these aerogels are silica-based, you can make colorful aerogels of your own by following the procedure for lanthanide oxide aerogels under the Make section here on



Stephen Steiner | January 30th, 2013 | Comments Off on Valentine Aerogels!

Amazing New Dust-Free High-Temperature Aerogel Blanket

Cabot Aerogel has just released a new dust-free high-temperature superinsulating aerogel blanket called Aeroclad™.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with aerogel blankets, they are generally made by combining silica aerogel (which is brittle but superinsulating) with fibers (which are flexible) to make a composite that has the superinsulating advantages of silica aerogel but unlike native silica aerogels, can be flexed, rolled, cut, and sewn.  Previously, there were only two types of blanket materials in town—Aspen Aerogels’ blankets (Spaceloft, Cryogel, and Pyrogel), made by casting a silica aerogel coating onto fibrous inorganic (for example, fiberglass) battings, and Cabot Aerogel’s blanket (Thermal Wrap), made by fusing polymer fibers and aerogel particles together in a “bird’s nest” setup.  Aspen’s materials have the advantages of high-temperature stability, but tend to kick up dust when handled aggressively (which while completely safe, causes trouble for some applications).  Cabot’s Thermal Wrap, on the other hand, is essentially dust-free, but has the minor side effect of melting above 180°C  (350°F).  Not so good for those blowtorch experiments.

Cabot’s new Aeroclad blanket, however, combines the best of both worlds—by fusing aerogel particles and inorganic fibers together into a composite, Aeroclad is dust-free and high-temperature stable.  According to Cabot, Aeroclad is two times better insulating that current insulation products used in industry, including fiberglass, mineral wool, and calcium silicate.

A major application for the new Aeroclad blanket will be in refineries, where shockingly less than 20% of all pipes are insulated.  For an industry where energy = $, that’s a pretty good indication that insulating pipes must really suck if they don’t do it more than they do.  And it does suck.  Current insulating materials trap moisture underneath, causing the pipe to slowly corrode over time—a dastardly, expensive problem called corrosion under insulation, or CUI.  Fortunately, Aeroclad is also hydrophobic, meaning it repels water and protects pipes from corroding.

“The Cabot Aeroclad blanket delivers the unparalleled performance and benefits of an aerogel product while addressing a clear market need for dust free and superior corrosion performance,” says Cabot’s Matthew Greenfield, commercial manager, Energy and Industrial, Cabot Aerogel. “Cabot has built a reputation in the industry for its unmatched customer service both in the field and in insulation product design to address specific application needs. We are actively working with several partners to commercialize this product to meet the evolving requirements and demands of the global industry.”

Cool stuff Cabot!  Or should we say hot stuff?  (Running out of heat-related puns…)

Stephen Steiner | January 10th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Aerogel Saves Chocolate from Blowtorch!

A new video from Aerogel Technologies demonstrating the superinsulating properties of silica aerogel–a 2″x3″ silica aerogel tile protects a Hershey’s® Kiss® from the heat of a >700°C (1300°F) blowtorch!  Watch until the end when the heat is turned up all the way and melts through the aerogel, lighting the chocolate on fire!

Watch it here:

Stephen Steiner | September 13th, 2012 | Comments Off on Aerogel Saves Chocolate from Blowtorch!

New Hollow-Strut Nanoporous Graphite Frameworks Break World’s Lowest Density Solid Record

The record for the world’s lightest solid material appears to have been broken yet again, and this time an advanced form of carbon takes the cake!

For those of you who missed the recent hubbub in the realm of ultralow density solids, last November, Schaedler and colleagues at HRL Laboratories, LLC (formerly Hughes Research Laboratories) published an article in the journal  Science describing an approach for making nickel “microlattices” with densities as low as 0.9 mg/cc.  The Guinness Book of World Records currently recognizes a silica aerogel with a density of 1 mg/cc made by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as the world’s lowest density solid, so obviously this is  an exciting claim!

Well move over metallic microlattices–researchers at the Hamburg University of Technology and the University of Kiel report a new kind of ultralow density hollow-strut graphite frameworks called “aerographite” with densities as low as 0.2 mg/cc–egad, that’s a vanishing 200 micrograms per cubic centimeter!  If you could scale such a material to the size of a person weighing, say, 84 kg (185 lbs), that person-sized piece of aerographite would only weigh 16.8 g (a little over half an ounce)!  The full details of the discovery are available in their June 12, 2012 article in the journal Advanced Materials.

(Before we go any further, a brief note to those of you who are wondering if these materials magically float in air given that the standard density of air is a  relatively leviathanic 1.225 mg/cc–the densities reported for these materials are the bulk densities of the lattice material sans air, that is, a hypothetical version of the material with the air sucked out.  As a result, both metallic microlattices and aerographite, like classical ultralow density aerogels, don’t float in air unless you do some parlor tricks such as backfilling the material with helium and dropping it into an aquarium filled with a dense gas such as xenon.)

Both metallic microlattices and the newly reported aerographite are elastic even in their lowest density forms, meaning they can squish and rebound, and have impressive strength properties and good electrical conductivity.  It’s important to note that not all metallic microlattices or aerographite materials are this low in density, and in fact the most useful materials are probably going to be heavier than these record-setting versions.

Thus it appears a new class of ultralow density solids, hollow-strut nanoporous frameworks (we’re calling them “HNFs”), has emerged and is demonstrating new ways of making really, really low-density materials!

For those of you interested in making aerographite yourself, we’re publishing a beta version of the experimental details under the Make section here on (beta because we haven’t tested it ourselves yet).

SEM images of graphite microlattice ("aerographite") made by CVD deposition of carbon onto a ZnO powder template while the ZnO was reduced and vaporized (Hamburg University of Technology and University of Kiel)


Metallic microlattice made from nickel-phorphorous alloy on a dandelion, no longer the world's lightest solid (HRL Laboratories)

Stephen Steiner | June 16th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Contest to Win an Aerogel Disc

For those of you who have always wanted an aerogel sample disc but didn’t want to shell out $35, here’s your chance to win one!  Aerogel Technologies is sponsoring a “twitch” (Twitter pitch) competition to promote their new line of mechanically strong aerogels called Airloys (full disclosure: Aerogel Tech is the primary sponsor of this blog).  To enter, all you have to do is pitch an idea on Twitter for a (serious) real-world application that you think Airloys would be good for using the hashtags #aerogel and #airloy (both).  The tweeters of their top 10 fave ideas pitched by July 31, 2012 will each win a 1″-class aerogel sample disc!

Stephen Steiner | May 7th, 2012 | Comments Off on Contest to Win an Aerogel Disc

Cabot Aerogel Releases Cool New Aerogel Coating (Pun Intended)

Cabot Aerogel, makers of the Lumira aerogel particles used in superinsulating skylights, have just announced a cool new coating that makes it possible to touch hot steam pipes, tanks, and steel surfaces without burning your hand!  The new coating is called Aerolon and is made by Tnemec Corporation, who uses Cabot’s superinsulating fine-particle Enova aerogel to make the coating.  Designed for use in plants and refineries, the coating is painted onto hot surfaces that could easily burn you if accidentally touched.  Dr. Dhaval Doshi, Global Applications Development Leader for Cabot Aerogel, says that you can actually put your hand on the hot Aerolon-coated surface for “many seconds” without burning yourself and you instead just feel a gradual increase in heat that tells you to pull back.  This is made possible by the fact that aerogels have both low thermal conductivity and low heat capacity, that is, ability to retain heat in their nanostructure, which makes heat transfer through an aerogel coating very slow.

Oh and by the way, the coating also helps prevent heat loss out of pipes and tanks, which means that heat (and money) that would otherwise be wasted goes where it’s supposed to go.  Energy literally equals money in a refinery and, believe it or not <20% of all of the pipelines in refineries are insulated due to the cost and hassle associated with installing and maintaining insulation on the pipes.  Additionally, traditional insulation materials can trap moisture underneath them, causing the pipe to rust under the insulation (corrosion under insulation, or “CUI”).  Looks like this stuff would make insulating refineries paint-on easy?

“Cool” stuff, Cabot!  Read the press release here.

Stephen Steiner | May 7th, 2012 | 3 Comments »

Happy Aerogel Day!

Happy Aerogel Day from!  Yes, March 26 is the birthday of Samuel Stephens Kistler, the inventor of aerogel.  We thought we’d honor him and his contributions to science with a holiday!

On that note, is getting ready to rev up with some great new content, including long-overdue podcasts and videos!  Stay tuned.

Stephen Steiner | March 26th, 2012 | Comments Off on Happy Aerogel Day!

Aerogel on Penn and Teller Tell a Lie

Watch the amazing thermal insulating properties of aerogel protect a poor aerogel scientist from the blast of a flame thrower (or not…?) on Discovery Channel’s new skeptic-friendly science show, Penn and Teller Tell a Lie!

Watch the clip here:

Stephen Steiner | October 5th, 2011 | 7 Comments »

Aerogels Put the Fun in Functionalization

In preparation for an upcoming podcast with Dr. Debra Rolison from the Naval Research Laboratory, we’ve just posted a new article about functionalization and why aerogels should be thought of as palettes for making active, functional materials, not just materials destinations themselves.  Check it out!

Stephen Steiner | April 17th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

New Ultralight Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Aerogels

Researchers lead by Dr. Lei Zhai at the University of Central Florida have fabricated a multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWNT) aerogel with an astonishing density of just four milligrams per cubic centimeter!

The work was recently published in ACS Nano and you can view the full manuscript here.

This material is particularly interesting because it is composed of a dispersion of MWNTs which leave a honeycomb structure with controllable porosity.  More-so, the aerogel has a large surface area and conducts electricity very well, but is a thermal insulator.  This is an ideal characteristic for electronics.

Notably this is not the first aerogel made from carbon nanotubes (or CNTs for short if you’re hip to the materials crowd), nor is it the first CNT-based aerogel to exhibit amazing elastic properties.  But it’s a new pathway to making CNT-based aerogels and the resulting materials are pretty cool.

Hype alert: There is a statement being circulated on the Internet that one of the MWNT aerogels these researchers made is the lowest-density aerogel (and thus solid) ever produced.  Unfortunately, this is not the case:  scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have previously produced a silica aerogel with a density of only 1.1 mg/cc, these ones here are 4 mg/cc.

So how are they made?  Here’s the gist.  Pristine MWNTs are dispersed as individual tubes in chloroform with a compound called poly(3-hexylthiophene)-b-PTMSPMA (P3HT-b-PTMSPMA) by sonicating for 13 min.  This anchors a molecule called PTMSPMA on the surface of the nanotubes. The dispersion of MWNTs then gels in several minutes to several hours depending on the concentration of MWNTs. The resulting gel is aged for 12 h at room temperature and then solvent exchanged into methanol to remove chloroform. An aqueous ammonia solution is then added to crosslink the gel for 12 h by hydrolysis and condensation of the PTMSPMA, during which time the gel shrinks a bit.  Finally methanol and ammonia are removed by exchanging the gel  into water and the gel is freeze-dried to obtain MWNT aerogels.  Note the use of freeze drying here instead of supercritical drying is possible thanks to the improved mechanical properties of the gels which make them more resistant to cracking during solvent removal.

The MWNT aerogels are impressively strong in compression and extremely elastic (squishable) exhibiting a rapid rebound.  According to the paper, these properties, along with a high degree of porosity make the material a promising candidate for chemical and pressure sensing.

Alex Capecelatro | January 19th, 2011 | Comments Off on New Ultralight Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Aerogels

Space Tourist Richard Garriott Receives Award Made With Aerogel

Private astronaut Richard Garriott (also known as “Lord British”, the creator of the Ultima series) received the first-ever Spirit of Yuri’s Night Award in recognition of embodying the Yuri’s Night mission of using space and art to contribute to the future of humanity, both in space and on Earth.  Yuri’s Night is an annual worldwide celebration to commemorate the first human spaceflight made by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961.

Read the press release here.

Designed by artist and co-founder Will Walker, this year’s Yuri is the fist-ever award to incorporate aerogels. The plaque component of the award was custom laser-machined for Yuri’s Night by aerospace engineers Shannon Dong and Thomas Coffee at MIT. Engraved into the plaque is the same trademark, stylized likeness of Yuri Gagarin that serves as the logo for Yuri’s Night worldwide. Illuminated by diffused ambient light, Gagarin’s image glows with a subtle orange-gold hue. Accenting Gagarin’s image is a rosette of five flawless classic silica aerogel discs, the same material used to

insulate the Mars exploration rovers and used to capture comet dust on the Stardust probe. Their characteristic sky-blue cast is contrasted against the black background of the plaque, reminiscent of the contrast of our own spaceship Earth against the blackness of outer space. The particular aerogels used in the award are comprised of 96% air by volume and were produced by Aerogel Technologies, LLC using a robotic high pressure autoclave.

Production of the award was co-sponsored by and

Stephen Steiner | April 10th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Nanogel® Aerogel for Buildings

Cabot online seminar

For those of you waiting to see aerogel actually commercialized for use in buildings one day, wait no more. Cabot Corporation, maker of Nanogel® aerogel, is already enabling some cool possibilities in architecture by introducing economical translucent superinsulating aerogel granules into skylights and windows. From buildings that look like glowing ice cubes to energy-saving daylighting, Nanogel is already finding uses in architecture projects around the world.

Interested in learning more about Nanogel? On Thursday, March 25, the Construction Specifications Institute will be hosting an online seminar with Cabot Corporation about Nanogel and how it is quickly being incorporated into buildings. Should be a good presentation, especially for architects and engineers interested in the thermal and optical properites of commercially-available aerogel materials.

Register for the seminar here. Continuing education credits for architects are available.

For those of you interested in actually getting your hands on some, you can experience Nanogel for yourself with product samples from, along with other types of aerogel materials.

Stephen Steiner | March 19th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

How to Make Silica Aerogel Podcast Part 2 – Supercritical Drying

The long-awaited second installment of our two-part series “How to Make Silica Aerogel” has finally been posted! Learn how to transform gels into aerogels using supercritical drying in this detailed podcast. A great in-depth guide for those of you interested in making your own aerogels and building your own supercritical dryer, or if you’re already making aerogels but have problems with the aerogels turning out white or cracked.

You can learn how to build your own supercritical dryer and read a detailed step-by-step guide on how to do supercritical drying under the Make section.

By the way, if you think all of this is too hard for you to do yourself, know at least three high school students have done all of this without significant budgets or university laboratories!

As always questions and comments are welcome.

Stephen Steiner | March 7th, 2010 | Comments Off on How to Make Silica Aerogel Podcast Part 2 – Supercritical Drying

New Podcast Posted: Ultrastrong Aerogels and Metal Aerogels

This week on The Critical Point, in our fourth installment of our continuing series “The People Who Reinvented Aerogel”, we sit down with Prof. Nicholas Leventis from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and learn about ultrastrong, flexible x-aerogels and metal aerogels–two new classes of materials that enable some very exciting technological possibilities.  X-aerogels are the first structural aerogels ever developed, and metal aerogels combine conductivity, catalytic activity, and high surface area.

Get the podcast here.

Stephen Steiner | February 6th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

How to Supercritically Dry Aerogels

At long last we have posted fully illustrated instructions for how to use the supercritical dryer you build in the Make section. Check out Supercritical Drying with Liquid Carbon Dioxide Parts 1 and 2 under Make > Gel Drying Procedures and supercritically dry some aerogels today!

The “How to Make Silica Aerogel Part 2” podcast will post soon.

Stephen Steiner | December 22nd, 2009 | Comments Off on How to Supercritically Dry Aerogels

Nicholas Leventis Named Curators’ Professor of MS&T

A huge congratulations to Prof. Nicholas Leventis at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T) on being named Curators’ Professor of Chemistry–an honor bestowed upon the best of the best in the University of Missouri system. Prof. Leventis is the inventor of x-aerogels, which are mechanically strong aerogels, as well as metal aerogels derived through sol-gel precursors.

Read all about it here.

In honor of Prof. Leventis’ accomplishment, we will be featuring an interview with him on this month’s episode of The Critical Point here on

Congratulations Prof. Leventis! You deserve it.

Stephen Steiner | December 13th, 2009 | Comments Off on Nicholas Leventis Named Curators’ Professor of MS&T

Upcoming e-Seminar: Cabot Corp Presents Advances in Aerogel Commercialization

We’re excited to announce an upcoming e-seminar featuring Bart Kalkstein, General Manager of Cabot Aerogel and Jim Satterwhite, Global Business Manager of Cabot Aerogel, who will talk about Cabot’s Nanogel® product–a granular form of silica aerogel used as superinsulation and in daylighting (skylights).

The seminar will be held Wednesday, December 16 (next week!) at 11 AM EST (Boston time) and will takes the form of an audio broadcast accompanied by a slideshow, all accessible from your computer. Here’s a brief overview of what they’ll talk about:

Nanogel aerogel introduction – Bart Kalkstein

  • Overview
  • Market applications
  • Recent advancements

Nanogel aerogel in daylighting applications – Jim Satterwhite

  • How Nanogel is transforming architecture
  • Performance benefits
  • Natural daylighting
  • Glazing technology advancements
  • Overview of various daylighting systems
  • Nanogel: A green building product

This event is brought to you by our partner IntertechPira, who put on the International Aerogels Conference in 2007 and the World Aerogels Summit 2008. Registration is cost $145. For those of you who can’t make the live broadcast, you can still register and view a recording of the event any time after.

Register here. Get a sample of Nanogel here.

Check it out! Great for those aspiring entrepreneurs and green technologists interested in learning about how aerogel is making a real impact in the world already.

Stephen Steiner | December 7th, 2009 | Comments Off on Upcoming e-Seminar: Cabot Corp Presents Advances in Aerogel Commercialization

Quantum Dot Aerogels Could Revolutionize Energy Production

This week on “The Critical Point” is the third installment of our continuing series “The People Who Reinvented Aerogel” featuring Prof. Stephanie Brock from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  In this episode, Prof. Brock discusses the exciting world of aerogels made from quantum dots (also called “metal chalcogenide aerogels” or “chalcogels”) and how these strange new materials could revolutionize solar cells, catalysts, and production of hydrogen from water and sunlight.  Listen to it here.

Prof. Brock, who started out as a French major in college, also talks about the value of coming to science from a different perspective and the importance of working outside “the box”.

Quantum dot aerogels made by Prof. Stephanie Brock may change the way we think about energy production in the future (image courtesy Prof. Stephanie Brock)

Quantum dot aerogels, discovered by Prof. Stephanie Brock, may change the way we think about energy production in the future (image courtesy Prof. Stephanie Brock)

Stephen Steiner | November 12th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

How to Make Silica Aerogel Podcast Series

This week’s podcast is the first in a two-part series about making silica aerogels–lab setup, mixing chemicals, gel processing, and supercritical drying. If you’re interested in making aerogels, this is a great place to start!

Next up on The Critical Point is Dr. Stephanie Brock from Wayne State University, who will talk about metal chalcogenide (quantum dot) aerogels, and then part two of how to make silica aerogels (supercritical drying).

Example of a silica aerogel you can make (recipe coutresy Michael Grogan, University of Bath)

Example of a silica aerogel you can make (recipe and photo courtesy Michael Grogan, University of Bath)

Stephen Steiner | October 25th, 2009 | Comments Off on How to Make Silica Aerogel Podcast Series

Dr. Alex Gash on Colorful and Explosive Metal Oxide Aerogels

This week on The Critical Point, Dr. Alex Gash from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory talks about the “Gash prep”, that is, epoxide-assisted gelation of metal oxides. From colorful transition metal oxide aerogels liked rust-colored iron oxide aerogels and canary-yellow samarium oxide aerogels to explosive aerogels made of thermite, learn how this exciting technology has expanded the range of possible aerogel compositions to the rest of the periodic table!

Beta iron oxyhydroxide FeOOH aerogel (left) and iron oxide Fe2O3 aerogel (right)

Stephen Steiner | October 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments »

High-School Student from Poland Builds Supercritical Dryer for Making Aerogels

A shout-out to do-it-yourselfer Szymon Bartuś from Poland who has recently constructed a supercritical dryer of his own (with a little help from! Szymon’s aerogel interests include making colorful metal oxide aerogels. Awesome awesome awesome work Szymon… can’t wait to see some aerogels!

We’ll have to get Szymon to do an interview for The Critical Point.

You too can build a supercritical dryer for making aerogels in the Make section.

Here’s a picture of his dryer:

Stephen Steiner | October 1st, 2009 | Comments Off on High-School Student from Poland Builds Supercritical Dryer for Making Aerogels