Light, strong and transparent wood

The transparent wood. Photo: Peter Larsson

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Researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden have created transparent wood. Opportunities to use this new material are huge.

For example, it can be used to produce solar panels on the facades of buildings. Compared to competing materials, its advantages are renewability, low costs, firmness, durability and lightness. These properties are highlighted when large areas are covered with solar panels.

Material can be produced to make windows as well, but they are not as bright as windows made of glass. Some 90 percent of light penetrates the material.

Wood is made transparent by first separating lignin, followed by nano-level treatment and finally treating by transparent polymer.

The invention is not record new. This is something that researchers have carried out previously as well, but only on the micro-level, in connectuion with research of wood anatomy. The use in solar panels, for example, has not been invented before.

Work to develop the properties of the material will continue, for example, as to transparency. Also the use of different tree species and industrializing the production process of the material are under development.

In the future the material may be used as a construction material or in cars in diverse ways. It can be used to improve energy efficiency of buildings and to decrease construction costs. Until now, the largest object produced from the material is a square with sides slightly under 13 centimetres, and thickness of one centimetre.