Scientists have come with a revolutionary new use wood. They have devised a way to make it transparent. This could totally change the way many things our lives are used and made. See-through wood could one day replace glass and be used windows and tables, iPhone screens, and a whole assortment other building materials. The innovation has come researchers the University of Maryland in the USA. They experimented with different ways to extract the chemicals wood that give it colour. Researcher Liangbing Hu said: "We were very surprised how transparent it could go. This can really open applications that can potentially replace glass and some optical materials."
The researchers worked a small block of linden wood. They boiled it water, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals about two hours. A molecule called lignin, which gives wood its colour, disappeared the boiling process. This left behind colourless cells, which effectively made the wood transparent. The see-through wood is a lot stronger and less dangerous than glass. It is better insulating the cold and it is biodegradable. Research is still its infancy and the process can currently only be done on 10cm by 10cm blocks of wood that range thickness paper-thin and a centimeter thick. The researchers will now focus applying the process a much larger scale.