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Fortune Magazine's "Technology To Watch"
A nearly transparent Super Material, Aerogel is the world's lightest solid, weighing only three times that of air and is 1,000 times less dense than glass.
At first glance, the smoky blue silica aerogels cause most people to do a double take. Most observers perceive a ghost-like translucent substance that is distinctive - yet encased by no evident means. Almost like an overcast rainbow, Aerogel resembles a hologram, appearing to be a projection rather than a solid object.
Due to its unique combination of physical properties - thermal, acoustical, optical and electronic - Aerogel holds incredible potential for a wide variety of applications. Aerogel is also amazingly strong. A block of aerogel the size of an average person weighs less than a pound, yet can support an object weighing more than half a ton. See Aerogel Photo Gallery.
NASA Calls Aerogel "Mystifying Blue Smoke"
There are a variety of potential used for aerogels. Commercially, aerogels have been used in granular form to add insulation to skylights. One research team has shown that producing aerogel in a weightless environment can produce particles with a more uniform size and reduce the Rayleigh scattering effect in silica aerogel, thus making the aerogel less blue and more transparent. Transparent silica aerogel would be very suitable as a thermal insulation material for windows, significantly limiting thermal losses of buildings.
Aerogel was invented 75 years ago by chemist Samuel S. Kistler. Mr. Kistler figured out how to remove liquid from a gel and created the first aerogel in 1931, when he was at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. His solution was to increase the temperature and the pressure on the gel so that the liquid inside became "supercritical," a special state in which a material has some properties of a liquid and some of a gas. Significantly, a supercritical liquid, like a gas, has practically no surface tension.
Kistler couldn't easily make the process work with water, but found he could replace the water with alcohol and, once the alcohol became supercritical, allow it to escape.
This basic approach makes it possible to make aerogels out of just about anything that can be dissolved. Monsanto once produced aerogel granules made of silica for use as additives in cosmetics and toothpastes at its first large-scale production plant in 1943.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Aerogel? Aerogel is a low-density solid-state material derived from gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with gas. The result is an extremely low density solid with several remarkable properties. It is nicknamed frozen smoke, solid smoke or blue smoke due to its transparent nature and the way light scatters in the material. While significant improvements have been made over the past two decades, the original Aerogel formula was invented 75 years ago by Samuel Kistler. (see Photo Gallery).
Rarer than diamonds, and costing thousands of dollars per ounce, fortunately, Aerogel's super-light weight make these distinctive aerogel pendants an affordable luxury that will last a lifetime.
Is it Safe? Yes. Aerogel is completely safe and has been used in everything from insulation and food additives - to toothpaste.
Are There Other Aerogel Products on The Market? No. While Fortune Magazine called Aerogel the "Technology To Watch," the extremely high cost of producing Aerogel limits its consumer applications. Italian clothing company Corpo Nove created a super-lightweight Aerogel jacket a few years ago that could withstand extreme temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit, but with a price tag of $2,700 each, it was cost-prohibitive for the mass market.
Pendants Include The Symbol For Air
Where is the Aerogel? Every product page for the FusionX, FusionX Magnum, and Aeroview pendants show the construction and aerogel content for each model. The AeroView line is completely transparent, clearly showing the Aerogel inside, while the FusionX and FusionX Magnum have a hand wound helix casing (in 8 vibrant colors) around the Aerogel core. For those that want to actually see the Aerogel that's inside, they should go with the AeroView pendant.
For the same reason some people prefer white gold rather than gold, the FusionX and FusionX Magnum pendants provide a look that some people feel is more elegant - but they do not show its Aerogel core.
Until now, very few people in the world have ever had the opportunity to come in contact with this mesmerizing material, where its primary uses have been limited to those of a handful of NASA engineers, universities, and other high technology projects.