Aerogels are a class of materials with fascinating properties but they are hardly materials at all as they can be composed of up to 99.8% empty space. Aerogels are extreme materials in structure as well as properties. They exhibit the lowest density, thermal conductivity, refractive index, and sound velocity of any bulk solid. Aerogels are among the most versatile materials available for technical applications due to their wide variety of exceptional properties. This material has chemists, physicists, astronomers, and materials scientists utilizing its properties in a myriad of applications. In this lecture you will learn about the structure, properties, and advanced applications of aerogels. We may even make some during the talk.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Alex Gash

Research Chemist, Chemical Sciences Division
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Alex earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of California at Davis and his PhD. at Colorado State University.; In between, he worked for several years as a scientist in the agricultural and mining industries, where he traveled extensively to collect soil and mineral samples. More recently he has been studying the synthesis and characterization of a wide range of materials from heavy metal adsorbents to nano-composites to ceramics. Since 1999 he has worked in the Advanced Materials Synthesis group at LLNL where he investigates low-density porous materials such as aerogels. Alex studies the properties of these materials and in applications involving energy storage and use.

Ellen Raco

Ellen Raco is a biology teacher at Tracy High School. in Tracy, CA. She received her Bacholor’s and Master’s Degrees in Biology at Binghamton University in upstate New York. Ellen continued her graduate work in biology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. After 4 years, she decided to move to California and began teaching the following year. Until last year, Ellen also taught Human Biology classes at Delta Community College. She has been active in programs that encourage teachers to include hands-on and experimental science in their classroom. Ellen is also an avid runner and coaches cross country for West High School in Tracy, CA.