Scientists Invented Transparent Windows Made Out Of Wood

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A study by University of Maryland shows that natural microstructures in transparent wood are the key to lighting & insulation advantages.Engineers at the University of Maryland demonstrate in a new study that windows made of transparent wood could provide more even and consistent natural lighting and better energy efficiency than glass.

image credti: University of Maryland

Wood and glass are both common building materials but have vastly different properties. Wood is strong, but is susceptible to rotting or destruction by critters. It is also not see-through. Glass is transparent. But it’s also fragile and can easily crack or shatter.

image credti: University of Maryland

The university research team has patented the process they say gives the see-through wood “high-impact energy absorption that eliminates the safety issues often presented by glass.”

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In the process, wood is bleached and boiled in lye which removes the compound that makes wood brown, called lignin. It is then soaked in a “clear liquid” and put in an epoxy which makes it clearer, and strengthens it to the point that it can be hit with a hammer and not shatter.

Because the process is patented, some of the exact details remain hidden.The researchers’ invention not only makes wood transparent, it makes it stronger. Glass is used as a building material because it lets light in, but has the disadvantage of letting out heat and not being energy efficient. The wood could let in a similar amount of light but keep in heat.