Mechanical properties dependence on microstructure in aerogel-like Quartzene®
In this project the relation between pore size/porosity and the mechanical properties has been studied in the aerogel-like material Quartzene®. Quartzene® is a patented material produced by Svenska Aerogel AB. Density measurements were made on three different types of Svenska Aerogels ABs Quartzene® in the shape of pellets.These three types of Quartzene® is called CMS, ND and E9. The mechanical properties were studied by doing diametrical crush-tests on the pellets. Afterwards the samples were examined through SEM in order to study the structural properties like porosity and microstructure. By examining the materials in this order the group hoped to find a correlation between the mechanical properties and the pore size/porosity. Other microscopic analyses such as TEM and FIB was considered, but due to time limitation these methods were not used. Rough density measurements resulted in an estimated density of 0.82-0.88 g/cm3 for CMS, 0.28-0.30 g/cm3 for E9 and 0.21-0.22 g/cm3 for ND. The crush-tests resulted in a mean fracture stress of 0.81-0.89 MPa for CMS, 0.30 MPa for E9 and 0.20-0.21 MPa for ND. Studying the materials in SEM resulted in an observed mean pore size of 59-73 nm for CMS, 264-362 nm for E9 and 690-710 nm for ND in the mesoporous domain. A subtle relationship between density/pore size and fracture was obtained, with a higher density and smaller pores leading to a higher fracture stress. Due to the lack of data in this study, it is recommended though that this is something that should be examined further before any conclusions can be made. In general Quartzene® has shown to be a brittle material, but this study indicates that the mechanical properties could be controlled in somehow through the microstructure of the material, focusing on controlling the pore sizes. Further investigations in sintering of Quartzene® are also recommended in this study because of its promising effects on the mechanical properties shown in other studies.
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