A chalcogel or properly metal chalcogenide aerogel is an aerogel made from chalcogens (the column of elements on the periodic table beginning with oxygen) such as sulfur and selenium, with cadmium, tellurium, platinum, and other elements. Research is ongoing, and metals less expensive than platinum have also been used in its creation.
Chalcogels preferentially absorb heavy metals, showing promise in absorbing pollutants mercury, lead, and cadmium from water. In addition, scientists have made one that is claimed to be twice as effective at desulfurization as any current methods. This is a very impressive feat, particularly because until the discovery of chalcogels' properties, scientists were beginning to consider desulfurization an optimized process.
Semiconducting metal chalcogenide aerogels, first demonstrated by Professor Stephanie Brock at Wayne State University, show great promise for use in chemical sensors, solar cells, and photoelectrolysis of water.
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- S. Bag et al. Porous Semiconducting Gels and Aerogels from Chalcogenide Clusters. Science 2007-07-27: Vol. 317. no. 5837, pp. 490-493, doi:10.1126/science.1142535
- Carmichael, Mary. First Prize for Weird: A bizarre substance, like 'frozen smoke,' may clean up rivers, run cell phones and power spaceships. Newsweek International, 2007-08-13. Retrieved on 2007-08-05.
- "New Sponge-like Material Can Remove Mercury From Water, Separate Hydrogen From Other Gases And Pull Sulfur Out Of Crude Oil". ScienceDaily. 2009-05-17.
- Detailed background about the synthesis and applications of metal chalcogenide aerogels on Aerogel.org
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