MAY 30, 2016 10:36 AM PDT

Scientists Create See-Through Wood

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Wood is an incredible building material - it's all natural and extremely strong. But, wood is susceptible to rotting with moisture and eaten by termites. Wood also blocks light completely.

Now a team from the University of Maryland, College Park has found a way to transform wood into see-through material that's can withstand 10 times more stress and 4 times more strain than normal, untreated wood.

There are 2 phases in creating transparent wood. In the first phase, the wood is bleached and boiled to remove lignan molecules that give wood its distinctive brown color. The process takes minutes for a small piece of wood or up to a whole day for a log. After removing the pigment, the wood is next treated with a strengthening epoxy resin, which seals the wood fibers and makes the wood incredibly tough.

The technique creates stunning wood material that's highly transparent. However, several challenges still remain before we see houses made of clear wood. Mainly, the epoxy substance is not environmentally friendly and engineers would require loads of this stuff to preserve the wood. Another challenge will be in scaling the process up so that large quantities of clear wood can be achieved within a short amount of time.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 25, 2018
Videos
SEP 25, 2018
Post-Hurricane Bacterial Threats
Natural disasters like hurricanes are dangerous when they occur, and their aftermath poses another set of problems....
SEP 29, 2018
Videos
SEP 29, 2018
How Researchers Study the Microbes in the Human Gut
Researchers are starting to learn a lot more about the huge number of microbes living in our gastrointestinal tract. But how?...
OCT 05, 2018
Videos
OCT 05, 2018
Listeria Infections Linked to Deli Ham
The CDC has some advice about a ham recall announced on October 3 by Johnston County Hams, Inc....
OCT 05, 2018
Videos
OCT 05, 2018
What is Site-directed Mutagenesis?
Site-directed mutagenesis is a common tool in the molecular laboratory. But someone had to pioneer it first....
OCT 09, 2018
Videos
OCT 09, 2018
Take-out doesn't have to be this way
I love take-out just as much as the next person, but there's something that gets to me every time I order in: the amount of single-use waste that comes...
OCT 14, 2018
Videos
OCT 14, 2018
An Ancient Genetic Element can Help Fight Cancer
Researchers have been trying a variety of ways to boost the immune system we all have so it's able to fight off cancer....
Loading Comments...