Weibo Xiong, Rasul Abdusalamov, Mikhail Itskov, Barbara Milow, Ameya Rege

Analysis of the microstructural connectivity and compressive behavior of particle aggregated silica aerogels

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

AbstractPorous media such as aerogels can exhibit unique properties including low thermal conductivity, low bulk density, and low sound velocity. However, the limited mechanical properties of aerogels restrict their widespread application. This study focuses on understanding the mechanical behavior of aggregated silica aerogels by investigating their microstructural connectivity and densification mechanisms under uniaxial compression. The interparticle connectivity is generated using the diffusion‐limited cluster–cluster aggregation (DLCA) algorithm, and the particle connections are modeled by beam elements that account for contact interaction. The mechanical response of representative volume elements (RVEs) is analyzed in both linear and nonlinear regimes while applying periodic boundary conditions. The model is correlated with experimental compression test data to validate the simulation results. With increasing compressive strain, load transitions between multiple backbone paths appear in the network structure. Thus, the simulation model provides insight into the compression process. Moreover, the simulation model enables the examination of the influence of various model parameters and facilitates the evaluation of the power–law relationship between the elasticity modulus and porosity of aerogels.

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