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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Mark Masters


Department of Physics

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne


An aerogel a very porous solid with a number of interesting properties. There are three main goals of this research: to compare acetone-exchanged and ethanol-exchanged aerogels in several areas, including durability and ease of production; to determine the porosity of the aerogels (how large the pores of the gels are); and to investigate several applications of the aerogels, including photodetection and, more commonly, insulation.

Sol-gels are made from a solution of TEOS (Tetraethyl Orthosilicate) in ethanol or acetone. They are then aged for 5 days in either acetone or ethanol to remove the other liquids (mainly water). The ethanol (or acetone) is then exchanged with liquid CO2 under about 900 psi of pressure in a manuclave. When the CO2 has been completely exchanged with the ethanol/acetone, the pressure inside the manuclave is increased until the CO2 reaches a supercritical state. The pressure is then slowly released to dry the gels.

We will present our results to date on creating ethanol and acetone based aerogels and examining their properties.


Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics


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