MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What exactly are SEAgels?

Date: Tue Apr 6 07:41:51 1999
Posted By: Remy van Gorkum, Grad student, Chemistry, Leiden University
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 922161455.Ch


I do not know a lot about SEAgel, so I looked up the following:

SEAgel (Safe Emulsion Agar gel), a very low-density, organic-based foam, is 
a natural material made from agar - a component of red algae that is used to 
thicken ice cream and other foods.  SEAgel is made by dissolving agar in 
water and adding an organic solvent and emulsifier that disperse the agar 
evenly throughout the liquid. Then the mixture is freeze-dried to extract 
the water and solvents. SEAgel can be made with densities from 1 to 300 
mg/cm 3 and with cell sizes from to 2 to 3 Ám.
Laboratory scientists are using SEAgel as targets for x-ray laser 
experiments on Nova because it can be doped with other materials, such as 
selenium. If we can fabricate an x-ray laser target with a density that is 
less than the critical density of laser light (4 x 10^21 electrons/cm 3 for 
0.53-Ám light), we can eliminate the violent hydrodynamics that take place 
when a solid-density target explodes before it reaches the density required 
for lasing. Using SEAgel will help us achieve a more uniform plasma, which 
will improve the quality of the x-ray laser beam.
Because SEAgel is safe enough to eat, it could be used as food packaging or 
as encapsulating material for timed-release medication. SEAgel could also 
be used instead of balsa wood to insulate supertankers and to provide sound 
damping in high-speed trains.

I suspect it is fabricated using the same methods for making aerogel, see 
this reference:

hope this answer is of any use,

Remy van Gorkum.

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