Mechanically Strong Aerogels Formed by Templated Growth of Polymer Cross-Linkers on Inorganic Nanoparticles


In the search for materials with better mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties, it is becoming evident that oftentimes dispersing ceramic nanoparticles in plastics improves performance. Along these lines, chemical bonding (both covalent and noncovalent) between a filler and a polymer improves their compatibility, and thus enhances certain properties of the polymeric matrix above and beyond what is accomplished by simple doping with the filler. when a similarly sized dopant and matrix are used, elementary building blocks may also have certain distinct advantages (e.g., in catalysis). in this context, researchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center reasoned that in the extreme case, where the dopant and the matrix (e.g., a filler and a polymer) are not only sized similarly, but their relative amounts are comparable, the relative roles of the dopant and matrix can be reversed. Then, if the "filler," or a certain form thereof, possesses desirable properties of its own, such properties could be magnified by cross-linking with a polymer. We at Glenn have identified silica as such a filler in its lowest-density form, namely the silica aerogel.



Keywords and Phrases

Aerogels; Catalysis; Chemical bonds; Plastics

Document Type

Technical Report

Document Version


File Type





© 2004 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2004