Modified wood likely to turn transparent to replace glass, say researchers

Researchers alter optically opaque lignin to make wood translucent

HYDERABAD: Wood that is made of plant fibre has transformed into a translucent material, thanks to Forest College and Research Institute (FCRI). The innovation was first of its kind in the state and only second in the country after the Institute of Wood Science Technology (IWST), Bengaluru.

The research was carried out by Ch. Mahesh, a student of the department of forest product and utilization under the head of the department Kapil Sihag and professor Sumit Yadav.

Wood has components like cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, wherein both cellulose and hemicellulose are optically transparent but lignin is optically opaque.

Researchers modified lignin to alter the characteristics of wood.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, HoD Kapil Sihag said, “We have been working on this research for the past one year and have been successful in modifying the lignin with the help of chemicals such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to alter the opaque characteristics of wood into translucence. Upon further infiltrating the polymer of the same refractive index as translucent wood, we could make the wood transparent.”

Bamboo and Balsa wood was used in the research process and it was also found out that the innovation could be carried out on any locally available wood material. With further research, there was a possibility of processing the furniture wood into translucent planks and efforts were being made for the same.

“As far as the application of transparent wood is concerned, it will be a promising alternative for glass. Moreover, it will be more durable than glass due its flexibility and strength and transparent wood is easier to handle and operate than glass.” Sihag added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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