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Tough Polymer Aerogels Incorporating a Conformal Inorganic Coating for Low Flammability and Durable Hydrophobicity

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posted on 04.05.2016, 00:00 authored by Hua Sun, David A. Schiraldi, Dayong Chen, Danqi Wang, Miguel Sánchez-Soto
Both inorganic and polymeric aerogels are well-known in the materials field. Inorganic aerogels are generally susceptible to brittle fracture, while polymeric aerogels tend to exhibit low modului and high flammability. To overcome these disadvantages, we introduce a new approach to the design of aerogels. A microporous poly­(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) aerogel/silica nanocomposite was prepared by growing a silica conformal coating onto a PVA aerogel scaffold. Such aerogel/silica nanocomposites show significant improvement in their mechanical properties over either individual component. The nanocomposites show excellent fire resistance since the silica conformal coating serves as a barrier for heat transfer and mass loss of the coated organic materials. After a fluorocarbon silane treatment, the nanocomposites also show durable superhydrophobicity.