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Growth and aggregation regulate clusters structural properties and gel time

  • Lazzari, Stefano Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, United States
  • Lattuada, Marco Department of Chemistry, Université de Fribourg, Switzerland
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  • The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. - 2017, vol. 121, no. 11, p. 2511–2524
English Silica aerogels’ unique physical and chemical properties make them fascinating materials for a wide variety of applications. In addition to hydrophobization by silylation, aging is very important in the synthesis of silica aerogel by ambient pressure drying. Here we systematically study the effect of aging on the physico-chemical properties of silica aerogel with emphasis on ambient dried materials. Silica gels were aged for different times and at different temperatures in their gelation liquid (without solvent exchange), hydrophobized in hexamethyldisiloxane and subsequently dried either at ambient pressure or from supercritical CO2. Dynamic oscillatory rheological measurements demonstrate that aging reinforces the alcogels, particularly at high strain. The specific surface area decreases with increasing aging time and temperature as a consequence of Ostwald ripening processes during aging. With increasing aging time and temperature, the linear shrinkage and bulk density decrease and the pore size and pore volume increase for the ambient dried gels, but remain nearly constant for supercritically dried gels. Small-Angle X-ray scattering does not detect significant structural changes at length scales smaller than about hundred nanometers, but hints at systematic variations at larger length scales. The findings of this study highlight the importance of aging to increase the ability of the gel particle network to withstand irreversible pore collapse during ambient pressure drying.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Chimie
  • English
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