Just when we thought we had seen absolutely everything that could be made from wood, a talented group of Swedish scientists came along and developed a glass-like material made from wooden fibres.
The research team from Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology used chemicals and nano processes to remove the lignin from the cell walls of wood, thus making the material appear transparent. Whilst they aren’t the first to create a transparent material from wood, the team are the first to do so on a level suitable for large-scale production.
“Wood is by far the most used bio-based material in buildings,” said Lars Berglund, professor at Wallenberg Wood Science Centre. “It’s attractive that the material comes from renewable sources. It also offers excellent mechanical properties, including strength, toughness, low density and low thermal conductivity.”
“No one has previously considered the possibility of creating larger transparent structures for use as solar cells and in buildings,” said Berglund.
“Transparent wood is a good material for solar cells, since it is a low-cost, readily available and renewable resource. This becomes particularly important in covering large surfaces with solar cells.”
Along with solar panels, the material could also be used to create windows and semi-transparent surfaces that would allow light into buildings whilst still maintaining privacy.
Whilst we shouldn’t expect to see any transparent wooden kitchen counters appearing in our collection any time soon, the prospect of using renewable wooden fibres to create a glass-like material shows just how versatile solid wood can be.
We are proud to offer solid wood worktops made from renewable, natural materials that are sourced from suppliers that are committed to sustainable management and tree replenishment projects. You can find out more about this on our Environmental Policy page.