Abstract Silica aerogels were strengthened by surface initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) of methyl methacylate (MMA) and ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA) from ATRP initiators grafted to the gel before supercritical drying. Tetramethoxysilane (TMOS) was copolymerized in methanol with 2.67 mol% of the ATRP initiator, 3-(triethoxysilyl)propyl-2-bromo-2-methylpropanoate, to afford gels. After replacing the methanol with toluene and adding copper catalyst, MMA and EGDMA (1:1), highly cross-linked poly(MMA-co-EGDMA) was grown from the surface of the aggregated particles making up the gel. After supercritical carbon dioxide drying, the result was highly porous poly(MMA-co-EGDMA)-silica aerogel composites that were significantly stronger than silica aerogels or poly(MMA)-silica aerogel composites of the same density.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Ceramics and Composites
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Materials Chemistry