Scientists at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have created a transparent wood composite that allows light to filter though. The material could be used to replace glass windows in order to reduce energy costs. Wood is 10x better at insulating than glass. 

Transparent wood is made by removing the wood’s lignin, a light-absorbing organic polymer found in the cell walls of plants that makes them rigid and, well, woody. Next the scientists soaked the lignin-free wood in polyethylene glycol, a common polymer found in toothpaste and smoke machines, to increase its ability to insulate against both heat and cold. 

Other advantages of the transparent wood? It’s biodegradable and easier to dispose of than glass or concrete. Plus it can bear far heavier loads than traditional glass. With widespread adoption, they could rock the very foundation of architecture.

But there are disadvantages too. As it stands, it’s more translucent than transparent wood, but it’s thought that future iterations could achieve complete clarity by using a different species of wood (they were using birch) and by tweaking the chemistry.

It’s thought that niche applications of the see-through wood could come in as soon as 5 years. 

Precision Glass & Optics from IRD Glass

IRD Glass does things that virtually no one else has with glass and ceramics. We create precision glass tubes, precision optical mirrors, precision optical filters and many other laser components.

We incorporate lean principles into the R&D process and use a unique cell-based manufacturing approach with small, dedicated teams work on individual client projects. 

The result is that we’ve become a sole-source supplier to companies like CyberOptics, Rockwell Collins, Boston Science and Honeywell for decades.

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