New Methodology for Functional Materials Aerogels

Technology #15342

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FIGS. 1( a)-1(c) provide a contrast between (a) conventional gel formation and (b)-(c) the gel formation process described in one embodiment: (a) is a schematic of 3-D gel networks of nanoparticles made by conventional processes; (b) and (c) are schematics of gels made by 1-D nanotubes/nanowires and 2-D nanosheets, respectively.FIGS. 2( a)-(c) provide a series of images showing samples at different stages of the aerogel making process in one embodiment: (a) is a schematic representation of nanowires aerogel production; (b)(i)-(iii) show photographs of suspensions, gels, and molded gels, of Ag, Si, and MnO2 nanowires (for (iv), aerogels of Ag, MnO2, and SWNT are shown) in one embodiment; (c) (i)-(iv) show photographs of suspensions, gels, molded gels, and aerogels, respectively, of MoS2, graphene, and h-boron nitride nanosheet.FIGS. 3( a)-3(e) illustrate the volume fraction limits associated with the four concentration regimes, as described in one embodiment.
Professor Jing Kong
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
External Link (
Sungmi Jung
Research Laboratory of Electronics
Managed By
Jim Freedman
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Chemicals, Instruments, Consumer Products
Patent Protection

Aerogels and Methods of Making Same

US Patent 9,208,919
A facile route for 3D aerogels from nanostructured 1D and 2D materials
Scientific Reports, November 14, 2012


Applications for this technology are found in aerogels, bio-scaffold, energy storage, thermoelectric catalysis, solar cells, and sensors.

Problem Addressed

Aerogels have numerous applications due to their high surface area and low densities. However, creating aerogels from a large variety of materials has remained an outstanding challenge.


This invention encompasses a new methodology to enable aerogel production with a wide range of materials. Colloidal suspension is initially uniformly dispersed with surfactant in solvent using sonication at low concentration, and evaporated slowly at room temperature so that it transformed into a more concentrated suspension with a large compressional volume change. As a result, the more concentrated suspensions of nanocylinders become gels consisting of 3D network of nanocylinders. The gels form at transition concentration between semi-dilute and isotropic concentrated regime and the resultant gels are washed to remove surfactant and then dried using critical point drier or freezing drier into aerogels remaining the gel network intact.


  • Gel can be formed from almost any material starting with colloid suspension of rod, nanowires, nanotubes, or nanosheet of material
  • Straightforward to develop aerogel material by extracting the liquid in the gel via CPD
  • Simple, efficient process that does not require proper precursors, reinforcements or supporting materials
  • Aerogels are extremely porous and ultrafine
  • Nanocylinders gels have perfectly interconnected 3D network, which results in good electrical properties