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Si3N4 Nanofibrous Aerogel with In Situ Growth of SiOx Coating and Nanowires for Oil/Water Separation and Thermal Insulation

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posted on 05.05.2021, 06:14 by Zongwei Tong, Baojie Zhang, Huijun Yu, Xiangjie Yan, Hui Xu, Xiaolei Li, Huiming Ji
Nanofibrous aerogels constructed by ceramic fiber components (CNFAs) feature lightweight, compressibility, and high-temperature resistance, which are superior to brittle ceramic aerogels assembled from nanoparticles. Up to now, in order to obtain CNFAs with stable framework and multifunctionality such as hydrophobicity and gas absorption, it is necessary to perform binding and surface modification processes, respectively. However, the microstructure as well as properties of CNFAs are deteriorated by the direct addition of binders and modifiers. To tackle these problems, we introduced a unique low-temperature (100 °C) chemical vapor deposition method (LTCVD) to achieve the cross-linking and hydrophobization of Si3N4 CNFA in only one step. More importantly, during the LTCVD process, SiOx coatings and nanowire arrays were in situ formed via vapor–solid (VS) and vapor–liquid–solid (VLS) mechanisms on the surface and intersection of Si3N4 nanofibers, which cemented the aerogel framework, endowed it with hydrophobicity, and improved its oxidation resistance at high temperature. Compared to most of its counterparts, the Si3N4/SiOx CNFA exhibited better mechanical properties, higher capability of oil/water separation (33–76 g·g–1), lower thermal conductivity (0.0157 W/m·K–1), and superior structural stability in a wide temperature range of −196–1200 °C. This work not only presents an excellent Si3N4/SiOx CNFA for the first time but also provides fresh insights for the exquisite preparation strategy of CNFAs.