Hollow foam spheres are needed for laser fusion experiments on the OMEGA laser facility at the University of Rochester as part of the demonstration of the feasibility of inertial confinement fusion. Previously polymer based foam and aerogel shells have been produced using resorcinol-formaldehyde (R/F) and divinylbenzene (DVB). In this paper we discuss the development of silica aerogel (SAG) shells. SAG may have the increased robustness, which is important in processing these laser targets. SAG shells were fabricated by the microencapsulation method using a triple orifice droplet generator. This technique allows for precise control of the shell diameter and wall thickness. Reduction of the aerogel gelation time is crucial to fabrication of intact shells with high yield. In addition, the proper choice of the components of the different phases of the microencapsulation process is essential for fabrication of intact SAG shells with proper sphericity and wall uniformity. The density of shells fabricated is approximately 100 mg/cc and the diameter ranges from 700–2000 μm, with a wall thickness of 50–200 μm. Development of a full density permeation barrier for retention of the fusion fuel will also be discussed.
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Paguio, R.R., Nikroo, A., Hund, J.F. et al. Fabrication of Hollow Silica Aerogel Spheres for Direct Drive Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Experiments. MRS Online Proceedings Library 901, 523 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-0901-Ra05-23-Rb05-23