"Frozen Smoke": Precursor to Star Trek-style "transparent aluminum"?

If this stuff is all they say it is, can we be seeing the early stages of something leading up to the “transparent aluminum” described in the Star Trek universe?

I’m also thinking, as a bicyclist … ultra-light bicycle frames:

They already invented transparent “alumina”.
See here.

I waant some. Last I heard, though, it crumbled on exposure to water. Have they fixed this?

I’d love to sandwich it between two sheets of glass. I would live with a milky view in order to have windows that insulate as much as the walls around them…

I’ve been hearing about aerogels for decades now, and we’re still not seeing it widely used. I’d like to know if they’ve found a way to keep it from disintegrating when it gets wet.

From the link

Brings to mind that great quote: “Never bet against a chemist when something is on the line.”

Which is why the quote about “unaffected by dynamite” doesn’t impress much.

“Look out! They’ve got a squirtgun!”

Your link says it’s not exactly aluminum, though:

However, the aerogel:

(Emphasis mine)

Well, from the article:

I love the readers’ comments that follow. Paranoid much?

I would truely like to know the consequences of inhaling or breathing this substance…Chemtrails, America! What happens when this substance is combined with Barium, Dyethylene Bromide or Aluminum salts? No paranoia here, just curious.

bert, san diego, ca., USA

Hmmm. I guess it’s just a matter of time before the oil companies buy out the technology and bury it in the basement so we never get to use it. I’m sure the Republicans will be happy to help kill it.

Keith, Fremont, California, USA

Aerogels are only slightly sturdier than smoke itself. It is hard to imagine something practical that you can make out of them, other than curiosities that you handle very carefully for the short while that they last, or fillers that you put inside something else to give the assembly practical strength. If you are underwater, you can think of gelatin as being a pretty close analogy to aerogel, though gelatins tend to be much sturdier than aerogels.

I would work best as insulation, such as in a lightweight but warm jacket or wrapped around garbage cans for explosives protection.
Should one be able to shrink-wrap it in water-proof plastic?

It’s great for thermal insulation, in which application one typically contains the aerogel inside something else, like the structural skin over an oven. I don’t know if you could contain it in something that would protect it and fit comfortably into a jacket.

I think aerogel strengths can be as weak as, say, a clump of sand on the beach that you can only lift without breaking if you are very careful. Of course, the density is way lower.

Aerogels offer high thermal resistance in part because they have pore structure that is small compared to the mean free path length of air molecules, which is around 70 nm. Therefore their pores are in the Knudsen regime, in which the air molecules don’t collide with each other usually, but just with the pore walls. This lets aerogels conduct less than air does (and I don’t just mean interrupting free convection, which most insulations do).

There’s another amusing stunt with aerogels. You can bake them in a vacuum for a long time, which drives the air out. Then, when you pull it out of the oven, if it’s a light aerogel to begin with it may now be lighter than air, and the chunk of aerogel will float up to the ceiling, and stay there until enough air diffuses back in to weigh it down.