Could synthetic polar bear hair revolutionize architecture? Image courtesy Wikimedia user Alan D. Wilson.
Materials scientists in China have developed an insulator that reproduces the structure of individual polar bear hairs, while scaling toward a material made up of many hairs for real-world applications in architecture and aerospace. Polar bear hairs are hollow, and the shapes and spacing of their hollow centers is responsible for their distinctive white coats, as well as being a source of incredible heat-holding capacity, water resistance, and stretchiness. — earth.com
Shu-Hong Yu, professor of chemistry at the University of Science and Technology of China and co-author of the paper titled Biomimetic Carbon Tube Aerogel Enables Super-Elasticity and Thermal Insulation published in the journal Chem, writes, “Polar bear hair has been evolutionarily optimized to help prevent heat loss in cold and humid conditions, which makes it an excellent model for a synthetic heat insulator.
The Chinese researchers have experimented with creating hair-sized hollow carbon fiber tubes that can be spun into larger configurations called aerogel blocks. These blocks can then be used as building-scale industrial materials, potentially as surface finishes or insulating material. The resulting material has been found to be not only lighter in weight than other aerogels, but can also function to repel water, retain heat, and stretch into flexible configurations, Earth.com reports.
Professor Yu added, “By making tube aerogel out of carbon tubes, we can design an analogous elastic and lightweight material that traps heat without degrading noticeably over its lifetime.”
On May 11, the Nature Publishing Group released Nature Publishing Index 2010 China, remarking “a dramatic rise in the quality of research being published by China”. University of Science and Technology of China is ranked 3rd of TOP 10 Institutions in Index 2010 China.
This article came from News Center of USTC.