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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Scientists managed to make a transparent wood

As far as the climate change worsening make innovations on objects made of environmentally friendly materials intensified. Previously we had been discussed about the transparent aluminum technology, so on this occasion will be discussed about the  transparent wood.

Although the technology has advanced, the wood is still one of the most popular materials for building materials. Therefore, the wood is cheap, strong and can be updated. Now, scientists are finding new ways to increase the value-added of wood.
Transparent wood material can be used as a replacement for glass. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1akg5l)
That is what makes a group of scientists from the University of Marland managed to find a new breakthrough. They have just created a glass-like transparent wood. The form is transparent and the material that is stronger than usual wood, make it described as the replacing materials of glass in the future.
To create the transparent wood, researchers chemically removed lignin from wood. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1akg4Q)
The glass-like  transparent wood is made by two major steps. First, by removing all content of lignin (a natural fiber found in wood) chemically. Lignin is found in the cell walls of the wood material. This step is similar to the way that is done by the paper manufacturer. The lignin removal process made the wood looks white, but does not make it transparent or opaque. Therefore, the wood itself is holding a light.
Materials scientist Liangbing Hu and his team at the University of Maryland, removed the molecule in wood lignin that makes it rigid and dark in color. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1akg4Q)
Second, to make it transparent, the wood from the previous process need to be added with the prepolymerized methyl methacrylate (PMMA). With the polymer, the team managed to change the refractive index so as to obtain a light transmission up to 85 percent. However, the addition of these polymers still able to maintain the wooden structure as original properties.

"Fiber alcove carved on the walls of xylem make it into a solid. For the first time we can keep the wood structure and making it transparent and simultaneously strengthen it," said Dr Liangbing Hu of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Interestingly, although made of wood, apparently the nature of the material has been changed. If the wood is usually known as an insulator material or could not send the heat and electricity well, but the transparent wood material is vice versa. It even has the capability of transmitting electricity and heat well so that it can be used in the electrical applications such as solar cells.

"The windows are made of glass becomes a major problem in the summer and winter, they have poorly capability of thermal insulation. If using the transparent wood, the amount of light absorbed will be higher and the efficiency increased to 30 percent," added Dr. Liangbing Hu.
Researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a transparent wood material that could change the way we construct buildings and solar panels. To create the transparent wood, researchers chemically removed lignin from samples of commercial balsa wood and added acrylic. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1akg4Q)
Something similar had previously been carried out by a group of scientists in Sweden that succeeded to process the wood becomes transparent and  also can serve as solar cells. "Transparent wood is a good material for solar cells because the material cost is cheap and comes from renewable resources," said the lead researcher Lars Berglund from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

Long before the wood-based material has been made transparent like what was done by these scientists. Wood has been used for material for computer chips. "Previously no one is making a transparent wood material to something bigger such as a building or solar cells," he said.

Not only used for solar cells. The transparent wood can also be used to create windows that are stronger than glass. If used for solar cells, this material could replace silica-based glass material. Silica still let a lot of light to pass through. Now, the team is working to boost porses manufacturing to ensure the process is inexpensive and can be used in bulk. The research is published in the Biomacromolecular journal. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | DAILY MAIL]
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