Transparent, monolithic metal oxide aerogels of varying densities are produced using a method in which a metal alkoxide solution and a catalyst solution are prepared separately and reacted. The resulting hydrolyzed-condensed colloidal solution is gelled, and the wet gel is contained within a sealed, but gas permeable, containment vessel during supercritical extraction of the solvent. The containment vessel is enclosed within an aqueous atmosphere that is above the supercritical temperature and pressure of the solvent of the metal alkoxide solution.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.