Researchers at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a new transparent ‘wood’ material that could someday help homeowners bring more natural light into their abodes, thereby cutting down on artificial lighting. The economic new construction material could also be used in solar cell windows, adding an extra benefit for energy-conscious homeowners.
Lars Berglund, professor at Wallenberg Wood Science Center, and his colleagues developed the transparent wood alternative by altering commercial balsa wood. The team removed lignin from samples the wood, which is a structural polymer that blocks 80 to 95 percent of light. After adding acrylic (aka Plexiglass), the wood becomes a great deal more transparent. Light can easily pass through the revised wood material, which maintains a slight haze due to the natural fibers.
That haziness means the wood material could be perfect for solar cells, because of its ability to trap some light. Scientists say that could help create more efficient solar cells that, theoretically, could be built right into the side of one’s house. Another added benefit of the Plexiglass-balsa wood hybrid is its strength. The new material is twice as strong as Plexiglass by itself.
The report was recently published in the American Chemical Society journal Biomacromolecules.
Via Science Daily