A new way to create ultra-light aerogels from nanowires has been found in the USA

The new silver nanowire airgel is so light that it can lie on a flower bud without damaging it

Scientists at the Livermore National Laboratory (USA) have developed a new ultra-light airgel made of silver nanowires, which is likely to find applications in energy and electronics.

Recently, foam metals (porous metals) have formed a new class of materials with unique properties - very low weight, large surface area, high electrical and low thermal conductivity.

However, conventional foam metal production methods are very costly as they require high temperature, pressure and an oxygen-free environment. Scientists have found a way out of this situation by making blocks of silver nanowires. The airgel obtained from it can change its density when exposed to its pore structure, which increases its electrical conductivity and mechanical properties.

Silver nanowire blocks are produced by synthesizing a polyol and purifying it using selective precipitation. To obtain the desired shape, the block is placed in an aqueous suspension followed by thermal sintering to weld the nanowire joints.