Friday, December 22, 2023

Weird Materials Science

Scientists in Germany, Sweden, the U.S., and China have produced nearly transparent wood which is stronger than either plastics or glass of equivalent thickness. Smithsonian magazine has the story.

The process involves starting with thin veneers of wood similar to those from which plywood is laminated. These thin layers are bleached to get the color out, then saturated with a plastic-like material and dried. 

The result is a material that is quite translucent, if not quite transparent, and strong enough to use as windows, computer screens, etc. Use in skylights is envisioned. There is even a version that can change color when an electric current is passed through it.

Material scientists are anxious not to create another “forever substance.” Efforts are underway to engineer the material such that its end-of-life properties are no more impactful than that of glass. At present it is superior to plastics in this regard.

Hat tip to the other DrC for the link.