Fabrication of strong and ultra-lightweight silica-based aerogel materials with tailored properties

Khaled Saoud, Shaukat Saeed, Massimo F. Bertino, Lauren S. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-linked silica aerogels are promising, strong, lightweight materials for photolithographic applications. The work presented here details the preparation of ultra-lightweight aerogel materials with tailored properties through the appropriate combination of silica and methacrylate polymer using laser-induced rapid photogelation fabrication technique. For fabrication, an ethanolic solution of hexanediol diacrylate, tetraorthosilicate, Eosin Y and a tertiary amine was prepared. The amounts of reactants were varied to prepare different compositions of aerogel monoliths. The solution was irradiated with a green beam from a low power laser source. The samples, after drying in supercritical ethanol, were characterized using FTIR, BET, SEM, TGA, and a mechanical testing instrument. FTIR data suggests that neither low nor high silica content has an effect on the reactivity of acrylate functionalities during polymer formation. SEM micrographs reveal that variation in silica or polymer content does not produce any phase-separated structures. Instead, uniformly distributed nano-sized polymer–silica structures were obtained for all compositions. Our results suggest that a variety of combinations of mechanical and other properties (such as densities, surface areas, pore sizes, and pore volumes) can be produced through appropriate combination for diverse applications. All these findings provide convincing evidence that the variation of silica and/or polymer content can be used to fabricate aerogels with a variety of properties, which have the depth needed for use in laser-based 3D printing technology of simple or complex structures with nearly any dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-520
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Porous Materials
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018



  • 3D printing
  • Photo-polymerization
  • Photolithography
  • Rapid fabrication
  • Silica aerogels
  • Sol–gel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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