Diamond Aerogels

Project Summary

Diamond is the hardest known material in the world. Aerogels are some of the least dense materials ever synthesized. Thus, one can imagine that diamond aerogels would exhibit very unique material properties. In this project, we sought out to synthesize the first room temperature and pressure diamond aerogel.

The extreme physical and chemical properties as well as low toxicity of detonation nanodiamond (DND) materials have led to great interest recently in using DND materials for both therapeutic and diagnostic applications in medicine as well as for supercapacitors. Furthermore, negatively charged nitrogen-vacancy color centers can be used for bright biolabelling applications based on their highly efficient extended red emission.

These materials are of interest, since aerogels are lightweight, have high surface areas, and contain abundant open pores which can be readily loaded with drugs or other compounds to be used as an effective payload delivery vessel. Developing synthetic approaches to high surface area diamond would greatly increase availability and reduce cost for a range of applied and fundamental scientific applications.

To make the diamond aerogels, we mixed resorcinol and formaldehyde (RF) molecular precursors with a solution of nanodiamonds suspended in a solvent (acetonitrile). The nanodiamond and RF solutions were then mixed and the sol-gel reaction was acid-catalyzed by hydrochloric acid. Following the sol-gel reaction, the nanodiamond hydrogel was placed in a liquid carbon dioxide bath and was turned into a nanodiamond aerogel via a supercritical drying method. The result was a rapid, low-cost method to making nanodiamond aerogels.

Related Media



  1. Manandhar S*, Roder P*, et al. “Rapid Sol-Gel Synthesis of Nanodiamond Aerogel.The Journal of Materials Research. 29 (24), (2014).

Acquired Skills

Synthetic Methods

Sol-Gel Synthesis
Supercritical Drying

Materials Characterization

Neutron Activation Analysis
Pore Size Analysis
BET Surface Area Analysis