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Researchers Discover Revolutionary New “Transparent Wood”
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a transparent closet, it may soon become a reality.
Researchers at the University of Maryland have recently discovered a way to remove the colors and chemicals from wood, effectively making it transparent. It looks no different from a regular piece of plastic, but is actually stronger than real wood.
Now you see me
Unfortunately, as of this article, the revolutionary new material many have dubbed “transparent wood” can only be produced in small blocks of roughly 4 x 4 cm. But once it becomes commercially available, transparent wood holds the potential to revolutionize interior design.
How they do it
Essentially, it’s a two-step process:
- First, researchers place blocks of wood in a boiling bath of water, sodium hydroxide, and various other chemicals for two hours. This causes the polymer lignin, which gives wood its color, to leak out of the cell walls, turning the material a murky white.
- Next, they soak the wood with an epoxy, which turns it clear. The atomic structure of the wood remains intact, including the ridges that the tree used to carry nutrients. When filled with the epoxy, these ridges transform into conduits, allowing light to pass through them.
What this means for you
Those who’ve wanted to incorporate transparency in their wall units and closets have had to settle for glass, plastic, and Lucite, which are hardly durable, or luxuries materials. However, with this new transparent wood, clients could potentially enjoy the best of both worlds – the sturdiness of an all-natural material like wood paired with the clean, polished look of glass.
Imagine a closet that’s completely made of this material; our clothes would appear as if they were floating!
Of course, hiding gifts in a closet comprised of transparent wood could definitely present some challenges. But still, think of the design possibilities…