Aerogel, AKA "Frozen Smoke"

Excited for today's eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews today!

The phrase "frozen smoke" describes the world's lightest solid material. Known as aerogel, this material is 95-99% air. There are many different kinds of aerogels, made from substances from silica to carbon nanotubes. All of them are incredibly light, because their liquid component has been replaced with a gas. They're typically around 20 times heavier than air, though a silica aerogel has been created that was only three times heavier than air.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Aerogel has had its liquid component removed, leaving its molecular structure intact. 00:35

  2. Aerogel can hold up to 4,000 times its weight in force, but it's also very brittle. 01:06

  3. Aerogel tiles are used in space to collect dust from comets. 01:48

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.

Advertisement