In a new development, a research team at the University of Maryland has devised a new method to make wood transparent. The paper on the study describes the process and the reason it is better than the old process.
In fact, scientists have been working on the idea of transparent wood for some time. And, for home builders, they view transparent wood to be new alternative of glass for houses, as the former is stronger than glass. This means, if struck by an errant baseball, transparent wood would not shatter.
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Nonetheless, in spite of much efforts, transparent wood has not found commercial use – mainly because of its manufacturing process.
New method skips to remove lignin integral to old method
Meanwhile, the conventional method to make wood transparent involves use of chemicals to remove lignin. However, on the downside, the process is long, releases a lot of liquid waste and results in weaker wood. On the other hand, with the new effort, researchers have discovered a method to done wood transparent without the need to remove lignin.
Detailing the new process, it involves changing lignin rather than removing it. To do this, the researchers separated lignin molecules that impart color to wood. In the step first, hydrogen peroxide applied to the wood surface and then treated wood exposed to UV light. Following this, wood was soaked in ethanol to clean it further. Next, the pores were filled with clear epoxy to smoothen the wood.
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As a result, the wood that was made features strength 50% more than transparent wood than the one made in the conventional way, and it also allowed 90% light to pass. The transparent wood featured to be tougher and lighter than glass, found the researchers.