Researchers create shape-memory aerogels with rubber-like elasticity

A time-lapse of one of the aerogels flexing from a held-closed position back to its original straight shape. Photo by Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T.

Polymeric aerogels are nanoporous structures that combine some of the most desirable characteristics of materials, such as flexibility and mechanical strength. It is nearly impossible to improve on a substance considered the final frontier in lightweight materials. But chemists from Missouri University of Science and Technology have done just that by making aerogels that have rubber-like elasticity and can “remember” their original shapes.

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