Scientists Come Up with A New Way to Make Wood Transparent, Stronger and Lighter Than Glass

By: | February 5th, 2021

The piece of glass in the above photo was made from wood.(Photo USDA Forest Service)

Scientists have found a new way to make wood transparent. This innovation could not only replace the brittle glass at home but also provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to glass windows.

How Transparent Wood is Made

The standard process involves soaking the wood in sodium chlorite. It is a chemical compound used in making toothpaste and bleach. This compound helps in removing a structural component of the wood called lignin. But this procedure involves a lot of chemicals that weaken the wood and produces liquid waste that is difficult to recycle.

However, the new method involves applying hydrogen peroxide to the wood surface and leaving it in sunlight. This innovative method modifies the lignin instead of removing it completely. This process is quicker and uses fewer materials than the standard process. 

The resultant wood so produced allowed 90% of light to pass through. Moreover, it is both lighter and stronger than glass and provides far better insulation than glass.

Liangbing Hu, the professor who led the research, said, “The transparent wood is lighter and stronger than glass,” 

“It could be used for load-bearing windows and roofs. It can be potentially used to make a see-through house.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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