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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 875361, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/875361
Research Article

Processing and Characterization of Silicon Nitride Nanofiber Paper

Mechanical Engineering Department, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA

Received 22 February 2013; Revised 22 April 2013; Accepted 7 May 2013

Academic Editor: Diego Gomez-Garcia

Copyright © 2013 Kei-Peng Jen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Papers of silicon nitride nanofibers were synthesized by a carbothermal reduction process. These nanofiber papers were synthesized in situ and did not require a secondary processing step. The process utilized silica nanopowders and silica gel as the precursor material. Processing geometry played a crucial role in regulating the growth of the nanofiber papers. Characterization of the nanofiber papers indicated that the nanofibers were of the alpha silicon nitride phase. Both mechanical stiffness and strength of the nanofiber papers were measured. Thermal conductivity and specific heat of the papers were also measured and were found to be lower than many common thermal insulation materials at much smaller thicknesses and were comparable to those values that are typically reported for carbon-nanotube-based buckypaper. Results of the mechanical and thermal characterization indicate that these silicon nitride nanofiber papers can be utilized for specialized thermal insulation applications.