Strong, low density, hexylene- and phenylene-bridged polysilsesquioxane aerogel-polycyanoacrylate composites

Dylan J. Boday, Robert J. Stover, Beatrice Muriithi, Douglas A. Loy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Nanocomposite aerogels were prepared by chemical vapor deposition and polymerization of cyanoacrylate on the surface of bridged polysilsesquioxane aerogels. Phenylene- and hexylene-bridged aerogels were prepared by sol-gel polymerizations and supercritical carbon dioxide drying. Hydrophobic organic bridging groups in the polysilsesquioxane aerogels reduced the amount of adsorbed water available for initiating polymerizations and led to higher molecular weight polycyanoacrylate than was observed with silica aerogels. Densities increased as much as 65% due to the addition of the organic polymer, but the nanocomposite aerogels remained highly porous with surface areas between 440 and 750 m2/g. Polycyanoacrylate-phenylene-bridged aerogel composites were the strongest with flexural strengths up to 780 kPa or 16-fold stronger than the untreated phenylene-bridged aerogels and fivefold stronger than a silica aerogel of the same density. The strongest polycyanoacrylate- hexylene-bridged aerogel composites had flexural strength of 285 kPa or ninefold stronger than the untreated hexylene-bridged aerogels and twice as strong as a silica aerogel of comparable density. The greater strength of the new composites is, in part, due to the greater strength of the bridged aerogels. However, higher molecular weight polycyanoacrylate, due to less surface water on the hydrophobic bridged aerogels, also contributes to the greater nanocomposite strengths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6371-6377
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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