Recent years, although silica aerogels are expected to be the promising material for energy savings, the lack of mechanical strength prevents from commercial applications such as to low-density thermal insulators. To improve mechanical properties, methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) and dimethyldimethoxysilane (DMDMS) are used in this study as the co-precursor of aerogels because the network becomes flexible due to the relatively low cross-linking density and to the unreacted methyl groups. Because of the strong hydrophobicity of MTMS/DMDMS-derived condensates, phase separation occurs in aqueous sol and must be suppressed to obtain uniform and monolithic gel. We employed surfactant n-hexadecyltrimethylammonium chloride (CTAC) in starting compositions to control phase separation during a 2-step acid/base sol-gel reaction. By changing the starting composition, various microstructures of pores are obtained. In the uniaxial compression test, the aerogel showed high flexibility and spring-back to the original shape after removing the stress.
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