Using Polymers to Strengthen Aerogel Composites

Technology #ua17-190

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Kevin Frederick
Graduate Assistant, Materials Science & Engr
Douglas Loy
Professor, 20 Materials Science & Engineering
Managed By
Robert Sleeper
Licensing Manager (520) 626-4604

Title: Strengthening Aerogels by Using Thermally Induced Phase Separation to Create Polymer-Aerogel Composites


Invention: The invention is a novel process to strengthen aerogels by utilizing thermally induced phase separation. Particles are completely covered by the polymer when theta solvents are cooled below their temperatures to separate from the poorer solubility of polymers.


Background: Silica aerogels are excellent composite materials for insulators, radiation detectors, etc. because of their low density, low thermal conductivity, high porosity, and specific surface area. Unfortunately, the areas that connect the particles are structurally weaker. The current practice is to strengthen silica aerogels by reinforcing these areas with high molecular weight polymers. Unfortunately, the downside there is that the additional material will make the aerogel bulkier and have smaller pores.



  • Thermal/acoustic insulators
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Sensors
  • Adsorbents
  • Catalysts
  • Radiation detectors
  • Optics industry



  • Homogenous mesoporous (pores between 2 and 50nm) structure
  • Low density, but higher mechanical properties
  • Increased flexible strength and stiffness


Licensing Manager:

Bob Sleeper

(520) 626-4604