Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Aerogel and its properties
Mains level: Utility of Aerogel can revolutionize insulation from heat, which is a major concern for space missions.
- Scientists at University of Colorado at Boulder have developed a transparent heat-resistant gel using beer waste that may one day be used to build greenhouse-like habitats for human colonised on Mars.
- It is made up of common plant sugar cellulose and is a thin, flexible film that is roughly 100 times lighter than glass.
- The gel is transparent and so resistant to heat that you could put a strip of it on your hand and a fire on top without feeling a thing.
90% made up of air
- Aerogels are at least 90 per cent gas by weight, but their defining feature is air.
- Their thin films are made up of crisscrossing patterns of solid material that trap air inside billions of tiny pores, similar to the bubbles in bubble wrap.
- This trapping capacity makes them such good insulators.
Utility of Aerogel
- Transparency is an enabling feature hence it can be used in windows for extraterrestrial habitats. A peel-and-stick film could simply be attached to home windows.
- Its thermally-insulating nature helps protecting from big oscillations in temperature in Space.
- The group’s gel is also cheaper to produce because it comes from beer waste.
- It can be developed for many other applications, including smart clothes, for insulating cars and protecting firefighters.