A team of researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park, has discovered a way to make wood transparent. Materials scientist Liangbing Hu and his team removed the molecule, lignin, in a block of linden that makes it rigid and dark in color. Left with a colorless cellulose cell structure, it was filled with epoxy, creating a version of wood that is mostly see-through. Results of the study was published in the journal Advanced Materials.
What good is having wood transparent? In a news story on the University of Maryland Energy Research Center website, it was speculated that it could be useful for fancy building materials and for light-based electronic systems. Hu said the wood exhibits high haze–the quality of scattering light–making it comfortable to look at, as well as aid solar cells in trapping light for absorption by solar panels.