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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 409310, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/409310
Review Article

Silica Aerogel: Synthesis and Applications

1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Yonsei University, 120-749 Seoul, Republic of Korea
2Agency for Defense Development, Daejeon 305-600, Republic of Korea
3Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Laboratory for Building Technologies, 8600 Dubendorf, Switzerland

Received 26 January 2010; Revised 12 May 2010; Accepted 30 June 2010

Academic Editor: Ping Xiao

Copyright © 2010 Jyoti L. Gurav 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

Silica aerogels have drawn a lot of interest both in science and technology because of their low bulk density (up to 95% of their volume is air), hydrophobicity, low thermal conductivity, high surface area, and optical transparency. Aerogels are synthesized from molecular precursors by sol-gel processing. Special drying techniques must be applied to replace the pore liquid with air while maintaining the solid network. Supercritical drying is most common; however, recently developed methods allow removal of the liquid at atmospheric pressure after chemical modification of the inner surface of the gels, leaving only a porous silica network filled with air. Therefore, by considering the surprising properties of aerogels, the present review addresses synthesis of silica aerogels by the sol-gel method, as well as drying techniques and applications in current industrial development and scientific research.