Scientists have invented a revolutionary new use for wood. They have found a way to make it transparent. This could change the way we use and make many things. See-through wood could one day replace glass in windows and tables, iPhone screens, and in a whole assortment of other areas of building. Researchers at the University of Maryland experimented with different ways to remove the chemicals from wood that give it colour. A researcher said: "We were very surprised by how transparent it could go. This can really open applications that can potentially replace glass."
The researchers boiled small blocks of wood in water, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals for about two hours. The molecule that gives wood its colour disappeared during this process. The colourless cells left behind meant the wood became transparent. The see-through wood is a lot stronger than glass. It is better at insulating against the cold. It is also biodegradable. Research is still in its early stages. Researchers have only used small, thin blocks of wood so far. They will now focus on applying the process on bigger pieces of wood.