dcsimg
ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside Scientific American Volume 308, Issue 5

Future of Substance: New Materials Promise Better Batteries, Stronger Steel

Seven next-generation materials promise to change the way the world is made

More In This Article

Space Suit Stuffing

Superinsulating aerogels are more than 85 percent air by volume, earning them the nickname “solid smoke.” Yet existing silica aerogels are brittle, like cheap Styrofoam. A much tougher alternative comes from the NASA Glenn Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, both in Cleveland, where scientists have invented new polymer-based versions some 500 times stronger. These aerogels, composed of heat-resistant polyimide plastics, are flexible enough to be folded in half. NASA engineers hope to use them as space suit insulation or as part of parachutelike decelerators to help safely deliver large payloads to the surface of Mars.

This is only a preview.
Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
ADVERTISEMENT