The problem is they can be pretty brittle. Now, a team led by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a new ceramic aerogel that's far hardier and more flexible, even after repeated exposure to wild temperature swings.
Aerogels are strong, solid structures that are up to 99 percent air by volume, which of course makes them incredibly lightweight. They can be made of many different types of materials, but ceramics are particularly handy as thermal insulators. On the flipside though, extended cycles of heating and cooling can end up fracturing the material.
In this case, the researchers made their aerogel out of thin layers of the ceramic material boron nitride, with its atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern. To test out how well it performed, the team put samples of the stuff in a chamber and fluctuated the temperature between -198° C and 900° C (-324° F and 1,652° F), with just a few seconds between each extreme.