Scientists at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram indigenously manufactured the world's lightest synthetic material called ‘silica aerogel’ or ‘blue air’ or ‘frozen smoke’. It was in news in the third week of April 2016.
Silica Aerogel is the lightest synthetic material ever made by man.
Key characteristics of Silica Aerogel
• The material is so light weight that it can be delicately placed on a flower head.
• It has an excellent thermal resistance and if it is used as filler in soldiers' uniforms it can save many lives at the Siachen glacier.
• The material can be used both in space and on Earth. Scientists also hope it can be used to insulate rocket engines.
• Frozen smoke can be also used to make light weight clothing, if painted on windows it can keep buildings cool or warm.
• The matrix of aerogel is made up of 99 per cent air. The material is likely to be used on moon rover in Chandryaan-2 mission of India.
The material is still very fragile and brittle and scientists at the space centre are still finding ways to make it tough and resilient.
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Who: Silica Aerogel
When: 3rd week of April 2016