For decades for the protection of industrial and scientific instrumentation from the high temperatures used ceramic aerogels. They can easily withstand extreme heat and still maintain lightness and strength, however, each thermal exposure, they lose their elasticity and become brittle. To fix this minus has engaged researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and they succeeded. Strength, lightness and other outstanding properties of the new material has been proven during several experiments.
The material consists of thin layers of ceramic material of boron nitride. Its atoms form a hexagonal structure and resemble a wire mesh. Unlike other similar materials, a new type of aerogel during the heating and mechanical action is not expanded, but compressed perpendicular to the direction of pressure. It consists of 99% air, which explains his record easily.
The reaction of the material in compression can be explained with a simple example: if you squeeze a tennis ball, his hand protrude on the sides. In the case of aerogel, his hand pushing himself inside. The material can be compressed to 5% of its full volume — after that it quickly returns to its original shape.
Resistance to temperature changes has been proven in two trials. During the first test, the aerogel was placed in a container with a sharply changing temperature from -198 °C to +900 °C and Vice versa. The second test meant a storage container with a temperature of 1400 °C, it lost only 1% of its original strength.
According to lead author of the study Santana of Duan, soon they will be able to adapt the material for use in spacecraft, automobiles and other equipment. It will be useful both for protection against sudden temperature fluctuations and heat storage, and even filtration.
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