Aerogels are solids with low density, high porosity, and a large internal surface area. They show outstanding performances as thermal, acoustic, or electrical insulators. However, their fabrication is energy and time-consuming and most aerogels are mechanically brittle and optically opaque.
Yuri Kobayashi, Tsuguyuki Saito, and Akira Isogai, University of Tokyo, Japan, prepared a structurally new type of aerogel which is transparent and combines mechanical toughness and good heat insulation properties. The aerogel has a three-dimensionally ordered nanofiber skeleton of liquid-crystalline nanocellulose (LC-NCell). The LC-NCell is produced from native wood cellulose through a water-based process with only a low energy input.
- Aerogels with 3D Ordered Nanofiber Skeletons of Liquid-Crystalline Nanocellulose Derivatives as Tough and Transparent Insulators,
Yuri Kobayashi, Tsuguyuki Saito, Akira Isogai,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014.