The Fabrication and Characterization of Carbon Aerogels by Gelation and Supercritical Drying in Isopropanol


  • The research at MIT was supported by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) subcontract B518047 and was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (59973028) and by the Talents Training Program Foundation of the Higher Education Department of Guangdong Province, China. Work at Duke University was in part supported by a grant from NASA (NAG-1-01061) through a subcontract from UNC.


We report a new method for the fabrication of carbon aerogels. Resorcinol and furfural were polymerized in isopropanol using HCl as a catalyst and the resulting alcogels were then dried directly using supercritical isopropanol, followed by carbonization under a nitrogen atmosphere. The carbon aerogels can be prepared over a range of densities (0.148–0.746 g/cm3), depending on the gelation temperature and the mass content of the reactants. The textural and transport properties of the aerogels materials were characterized by nitrogen adsorption/desorption analysis, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), magnetic susceptibility, and resistivity measurements. TEM observations show that the carbon aerogels are composed of interconnected nanoparticles with diameters ranging from 20 to 30 nm. All of the aerogel samples exhibit high Brunauer– Emmett–Teller (BET) surface areas in the range of 557–656 m2/g. The carbon aerogels produced by this new method have similar transport properties to those of carbon aerogels prepared by the traditional method.