Scientists develop method to make wood harder than steel — or even transparent

            <img src="" border="0" /><em>[...] scientists say a simple and inexpensive new process can transform any type of wood into a material stronger than steel, and even some high-tech titanium alloys. [...]
The results are impressive. The team’s compressed wood is three times as dense as the untreated substance, Hu says, adding that its resistance to being ripped apart is increased more than 10-fold. It also can become about 50 times more resistant to compression and almost 20 times as stiff.

Wood, so hot right now. Thanks to new and improved construction methods, there is barely a month going by without the announcement of record-breaking wooden structures and rapidly increasing height limits for cross-laminated timber skyscrapers around the world.  Meanwhile material scientists are pushing the qualities of one of the planet's most abundant building materials beyond existing boundaries: researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park have published their method of any kind of wood into densified wood, a material that exceeds the strength of steel while being lightweight and cheap to regrow. The same UMD scientists, as well as competing colleagues at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, are also working to make a wood material that is transparent — potentially replacing conventional glass in certain applications.

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