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Author(s): , , , , , ,

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Abstract: Silica aerogels (SA) are identified as one of the most advanced thermal insulating materials to date, however, their range of applications is limited due to a high sensitivity to moisture and issues with brittleness. This study highlights the design and fabrication of a new and improved thermal insulation material, robust flexible hybrid silica nanofiber (SNF)-SA membranes. To allow for higher thermal insulating characteristics, these membranes form an interpenetrating network of mesoporous silica within a flexible SNF scaffold. Regular SNF membranes were impregnated with silica sol and were then put through a process of aging, solvent exchanging, surface modification and drying at ambient atmosphere. The product, hybrid SNF/SA membranes, exhibited pore diameters of less than the free path of air molecules, which greatly improved the mechanical strength, while still allowing flexibility. This new hybrid was also able to maintain its low thermal conductivity, and its hydrophobicity.

Reference: Royal Society of Chemistry Advances, 5 (2015) 91813-91820

DOI: 10.1039/c5ra18137b