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Preparation of ZrO2 aerogels by L-malic acid and L-tartaric acid assistant sol–gel method


In our previous work, we adopted the organic acids assisted sol–gel method to prepare ZrO2 aerogels. In preparation process, we found the organic acids with two carboxyl groups and one side group including –OH, –NH2, and –SH were prerequisite to form wet gels. Furthermore, the citric acid with three carboxyl groups and one hydroxyl group was also successfully to form wet gels. Therefore, we speculated that the organic acids required to possess at least two carboxyl groups and one side group to form wet gels. In this work, different organic reagents including acetic acid (AA), oxalic acid (OA), lactic acid (LA), edetic acid (EDTA), butanediol (BD), glycerol (GA), citric acid (CA), L-malic acid (LMA) and L-tartaric acid (LTA) were adopted as gel accelerators to verify our assumption. A series of ZrO2 aerogels were successfully synthesized using ZrOCl2·8H2O as zirconium precursor, and LMA or LTA as the gel initiators by the sol–gel method. It was found that the gelation time of LTA as gelator was shorted than that of LMA in the same condition. When LTA as an gelator, the tetragonal phase can keep until 1000 °C, while for LMA, the tetragonal phase can keep at 800 °C. After supercritical fluid drying (SCFD), ZrO2 aerogel with high surface area of over 339 m2·g1 and large pore volume of over 0.92 cm3·g1 can be obtained.

Graphical Abstract

ZrO2 aerogels have been prepared applied L-malic acid or L-tartaric acid as gelators by sol–gel method.


  • ZrO2 aerogels have been prepared applying the zirconium source (ZrOCl2·8H2O) and L-malic acid or, L-tartaric acid.

  • The organic acids at least had one side group –OH and two –COOH groups, which were integrant to synthesize ZrO2 aerogel.

  • LMA-6-aerogel has high surface area over 339 m2·g−1 and large pore volume over 0.92 cm3·g−1.

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This work is supported by National key research and development program (Grant No. 2016YFB0901600), National Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21303162 and Grant No. 11604295), the school fund (Grant No. 2020qd10), and General Natural Science Research Projects of Colleges and Universities in Anhui Province (Grant No. KJ2021B14), Key Research and Development Program of Anhui Province (Grant No. 202104b11020010).

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Correspondence to Mingjia Zhi or Zhanglian Hong.

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Wang, X., Li, C., Zhi, M. et al. Preparation of ZrO2 aerogels by L-malic acid and L-tartaric acid assistant sol–gel method. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol 106, 281–287 (2023).

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  • ZrO2 aerogel
  • Sol–gel
  • L-malic acid
  • L-tartaric acid
  • –OH
  • –COOH