Zhao, L., Yang, S., Bhatia, B., Strobach, E., & Wang, E. N. (2016). Modeling silica aerogel optical performance by determining its radiative properties. AIP Advances, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4943215
Silica aerogel has been known as a promising candidate for high performance trans- parent insulation material (TIM). Optical transparency is a crucial metric for silica aerogels in many solar related applications. Both scattering and absorption can reduce the amount of light transmitted through an aerogel slab. Due to multiple scattering, the transmittance deviates from the Beer-Lambert law (exponential attenuation). To better understand its optical performance, we decoupled and quantified the extinction contributions of absorption and scattering separately by identifying two sets of radiative properties. The radiative properties are deduced from the measured total transmittance and reflectance spectra (from 250 nm to 2500 nm) of synthesized aerogel samples by solving the inverse problem of the 1-D Radiative Transfer Equation (RTE). The obtained radiative properties are found to be independent of the sample geometry and can be considered intrinsic material properties, which originate from the aerogel’s microstructure. This finding allows for these properties to be directly compared between different samples. We also demonstrate that by using the obtained radiative properties, we can model the photon transport in aerogels of arbitrary shapes, where an analytical solution is difficult to obtain.