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Tech.Picts page 4

Structural Air or Bubble Tech Gels

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Semiconducting AirGels

'AirGel' is a popular misnomer used to describe a collection of different molecular engineering techniques yielding various complexes of foam, gel or fullerene like structures.

Some 'airGels' expand, contract or bend under the influence of electrical, light or radio energies. Others emit these energies when they are physically deformed. As a group these airGels are known as Servo/Sensor types.

Other airGels are constructed to store, transform, and conduct light or electrical energy. Many of these airGel types are carefully made atom by atom into massive logic arrays.

All these airGels have a common denominator, they are extremely light. Yet, when properly bonded to stressed diamond or polymer skins, that are then built up in layers, these airGel sandwiches can become strong, durable, flexible, lighter-than-air, smart structures suitable for a great number of uses.

One of the most notable, if least practical, is the stormboard. A lighter-than-air glider containing one pilot who controls the board by changing body position. These changes are 'read' by a form-fitting layer of sensorGel. The layers of logicGel bonded to the sensorGel layers seds the shape change information to the Stormboard's body-topo computer. Using energy collected by, and stored in the battGel layer, the body topo computer then reconfigures the outer layers of the stormboard's servoGels.

Structural airGels are widely used in ultraHighRise buildings. SpaceSuits are made from smartGels-a collective term for power-collecting and storing, logic and sensor/servo gel systems. They allow just the right amount of visible light in to allow a spacewalking astronaut to have a completely unihibited view without danger of eye damage. These same smartGels are able to absorb for energy collection or at least deflect deadly cosmic and solar radiation as well as store and recycle air and fluids. Most spaceShips and spaceHabs are constructed from these transparent bubble gels that could also be programmed to be opaque to visible light as desired.


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Copyright (c) 1996 Lee Skidmore