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J Am Chem Soc. 2006 May 24;128(20):6589-94.

Ultralow-density nanostructured metal foams: combustion synthesis, morphology, and composition.

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Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA.


The synthesis of low-density, nanoporous materials has been an active area of study in chemistry and materials science dating back to the initial synthesis of aerogels. These materials, however, are most often limited to metal oxides, e.g., silica and alumina, and organic aerogels, e.g., resorcinol/formaldehyde, or carbon aerogels, produced from the pyrolysis of organic aerogels. The ability to form monolithic metallic nanocellular porous materials is difficult and sometimes elusive using conventional methodology. Here we report a relatively simple method to access unprecedented ultralow-density, nanostructured, monolithic, transition-metal foams, utilizing self-propagating combustion synthesis of novel transition-metal complexes containing high nitrogen energetic ligands. During the investigation of the decomposition behavior of the high-nitrogen transition metal complexes, it was discovered that nanostructured metal monolithic foams were formed in a post flame-front dynamic assembly having remarkably low densities down to 0.011 g cm(-3) and extremely high surface areas as high as 270 m(2) g(-1). We have produced monolithic nanoporous metal foams via this method of iron, cobalt, copper, and silver metals. We expect to be able to apply this to many other metals and to be able to tailor the resulting structure significantly.

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