This paper celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, presents a retrospective of twenty years of aerogel research at Union College, a baccalaureate-granting institution. Development of a rapid supercritical extraction method for aerogel fabrication and subsequent contributions to the sol-gel literature in the areas of aerogel windows for sustainable buildings, hydrophobic aerogels for a variety of applications including drag reduction, and catalytic aerogels for automotive pollution mitigation are highlighted. Engaging in multidisciplinary research on remarkable materials that can contribute to addressing global challenges is inherently motivating for students early in their academic careers as well as for faculty members. Opportunities and challenges associated with establishing and maintaining a productive academic research program when most students are available to participate only in shorter-term projects are discussed.
A retrospective of 20 years of research in aerogel materials is presented.
An overview of the Union College rapid supercritical extraction method is provided.
Contributions in the areas of aerogel windows, hydrophobic materials and catalysis are described.
Opportunities and challenges of research at an undergraduate institution are emphasized.
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The Union College Aerogel Lab has received external funding from the US National Science Foundation (Grant nos. CTS-0216153, CHE-0514527, CMMI-0722842, CHE-0847901, DMR-1206631, CBET-1228851, IIP-1332456, DMR-1828144, and IIP-1918217) and the ACS Petroleum Research Fund (Grant No. 39796-B10), as well as subawards from grants to SunThru LLC from the NSF (Grant nos. IIP-1415359 and IIP-2025800) and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (Grant No. NYSERDA-87381). We are grateful for the contributions of our students, postbaccalaureate researchers, and colleagues to the work reviewed herein. We acknowledge support of that work from Union College through the Faculty Research Fund, Student Research Grants, Student Summer Research Fellowships, and the Chemistry Department’s Kane Fund.
Both authors contributed to writing and editing the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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The authors declare no competing interests.
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Carroll, M.K., Anderson, A.M. Twenty years of aerogel research at an undergraduate institution. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-022-06034-1