U(rano)topia: spectral skies and rainbow holograms for silica aerogel artworks


Micro/nano structuring in distinct chemical compositions has demonstrated added values which could be utilized in various modern applications and products through the lens of visual arts. Silica aerogel is a prominent example of such a nanostructure, with which we recently utilized to accommodate the unique design of high jewelry. Using its natural shades and transparent layers, silica aerogel can be described by the first author, a visual artist, as an extremely beautiful and ethereal material that closely resembles a piece of sky. Ultimately silica aerogel can be exploited as a skylike material, and has been used in numerous collaborations amongst artists and scientists to bring to life concepts, like rainbow holograms on silica aerogel dried by high-temperature supercritical drying with methanol. In this short review, we show how such collaborations the authors have been proceeding are evoking developments in science and technology as well as in design, fashion and art industries. The series of the collaborative research has been contributing to the development of quality end products by merging new technologies, novel functional materials and innovative manufacturing processes with visual arts.