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August 20, 2007

New Artificial Material "Aerogel" Lighter Than Styrofoam, But Can Resist TNT Blasts?

That's the claim, at least. It's nicknamed "Frozen Smoke" because it's basically just air (especially the Invisible Killer carbon dioxide) tricked by sneaky materials chemists and engineers into taking solid form.

A MIRACLE material for the 21st century could protect your home against bomb blasts, mop up oil spillages and even help man to fly to Mars.

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.

It is expected to rank alongside wonder products from previous generations such as Bakelite in the 1930s, carbon fibre in the 1980s and silicone in the 1990s. Mercouri Kanatzidis, a chemistry professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, said: “It is an amazing material. It has the lowest density of any product known to man, yet at the same time it can do so much. I can see aerogel being used for everything from filtering polluted water to insulating against extreme temperatures and even for jewellery.”

You can buy some now, and there's video of this Miracle Crap over at the Hyscience link. But I guess this is not an example of the bomb-resistant sort of Frozen Smoke, as the guy handling it says the slightest pinch will shatter it into thousands of pieces.

It's still pretty cool though. You gotta be able do something neat with a solid whose density is almost as low as air itself.



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posted by Ace at 03:54 PM

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