UCLA researchers and collaborators at eight other research institutions have created an extremely light and durable boron nitride-based aerogel. The material could be used for applications like insulating spacecraft because it can withstand the intense heat and severe temperature changes that space missions endure.
Ceramic aerogels have been used to insulate industrial equipment since the 1990s, and they have been used to insulate scientific equipment on NASA’s Mars rover missions. But the new version is much more durable after exposure to extreme heat and repeated temperature spikes, while also being much lighter. Its unique atomic composition and microscopic structure also make it unusually elastic.