Ultralight and fire-resistant ceramic nanofibrous aerogels with temperature-invariant superelasticity

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Science Advances  27 Apr 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 4, eaas8925
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aas8925

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Ultralight aerogels that are both highly resilient and compressible have been fabricated from various materials including polymer, carbon, and metal. However, it has remained a great challenge to realize high elasticity in aerogels solely based on ceramic components. We report a scalable strategy to create superelastic lamellar-structured ceramic nanofibrous aerogels (CNFAs) by combining SiO2 nanofibers with aluminoborosilicate matrices. This approach causes the random-deposited SiO2 nanofibers to assemble into elastic ceramic aerogels with tunable densities and desired shapes on a large scale. The resulting CNFAs exhibit the integrated properties of flyweight densities of >0.15 mg cm−3, rapid recovery from 80% strain, zero Poisson’s ratio, and temperature-invariant superelasticity to 1100°C. The integral ceramic nature also provided the CNFAs with robust fire resistance and thermal insulation performance. The successful synthesis of these fascinating materials may provide new insights into the development of ceramics in a lightweight, resilient, and structurally adaptive form.

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