A groundbreaking discovery by a team of chemists and materials scientists at Sichuan University in China has led to the development of a photoluminescent aerogel with an extraordinary visible light reflectance of 104%. This remarkable achievement could potentially revolutionize the way we think about cooling materials and their applications in various industries.

As the global climate continues to warm, the need for innovative cooling solutions becomes increasingly urgent. One promising avenue of research is the development of passive radiative cooling materials, which offer cooling capabilities based on their inherent properties rather than through an active process. By incorporating these materials into everyday objects, such as the roofs of buildings, it is possible to significantly reduce heat absorption and lower cooling costs.

The team in China utilized readily available biomass to create their photoluminescent aerogel, which is designed to reflect more light than it receives due to its unique photoluminescence properties. Through the process of photoluminescence, molecules are able to absorb photons in the visible spectrum, excite their electrons to a higher energy state, and emit light. This mechanism allows the aerogel to reflect an astonishing 104% of the light that strikes it, a feat made possible by the addition of freeze-dried salmon sperm DNA to a gelatin sample.

The resulting material, held together by hydrogen bonds between phosphates in the DNA and amino acids in the gelatin, demonstrates remarkable self-healing capabilities when exposed to water. In addition to its cooling properties, the aerogel is environmentally friendly and has the potential to be used in a wide range of applications. Testing has shown that coating a structure with this aerogel can reduce its surface temperature to 16°C below ambient temperature, highlighting its effectiveness in real-world scenarios.

The development of this photoluminescent aerogel represents a significant advancement in the field of materials science and has the potential to have a lasting impact on various industries. By harnessing the power of biomaterials and innovative manufacturing techniques, the team in China has opened up new possibilities for creating sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective cooling solutions. As we continue to face the challenges of a warming planet, research initiatives like this serve as a beacon of hope for a more sustainable future.


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