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Project Title: Optofluidic Platform Based on Silica Aerogel with Gas Sensing Applications
Silica aerogel is a wondrous material consisting almost entirely of air – thanks to which it’s also known by the name of ‘solid smoke’. It’s found many application in science, from insulating robots on Mars, to being used by NASA to capture particles from far away stars. It has many incredible properties, being almost completely see-through, waterproof and very porous. These qualities make it perfect as a platform for my project.
The initial aim of the project will be to create small channels inside of the aerogel, fill them with various liquids and use a laser to essentially create liquid optical fibres in a transparent cladding. Different channel configurations and sizes will be tested out. From there, the resulting platform will be used to optically detect gases, which will be able to pass through the porous aerogel into the liquid, changing the optical properties of both the aerogel and liquid.
Awarded: Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship
University: University of St Andrews