He began research in the field of sol-gel science while in high school, building a supercritical dryer for producing silica aerogels. This project was initially targeted at making a passive insulating module for medication, but later became a study on making mechanically-robust aerogels. Being mentored by Nicholas Leventis at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Alex and Dr. Leventis published two papers on isocyanate-crosslinked aerogels, now referred to as x-aerogels.
Since then, Alex has worked in the labs of Dr. Debra Rolison at the Naval Research Laboratory, Dr. Bruce Dunn at UCLA, and Dr. C. Jeffrey Brinker at Sandia National Labs. This research has explored the application of sol-gel materials for filtration devises, biosensors, fuel cells, catalysts, and cellular matrixes.
Of possible interest to the sol-gel community, one of Alex’s early collaborators, Stephen Steiner at MIT, whom Alex introduced x-aerogels to, has set up the website aerogel.org for what he calls “open source nanotech.”