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See-through Wood is Now a Thing


Two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that researchers from the University of Maryland have found a way to make wood transparent. From the article:

Using a two-step process, researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park, stripped away the plank’s tan and brown color and made it clear. The see-through wood, which the scientists say is stronger and a better insulator than glass, and more biodegradable than plastic, could one day be used in windows, tables and other building supplies. 

To turn the wood transparent, Dr. Hu and his team first boiled it in a bath of water, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals for about two hours. This removed a molecule called lignin, which gives the wood its color, but left behind its colorless cell structures. The next step was to pour epoxy over the block, which made it four to six times stronger.

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