Another wood-based super material has been invented by scientists - this one surpassing the strength of spider silk, formerly the strongest known biomaterial.
The new material could be used to create super strong furniture, airplanes, cars, buildings, and other products, say Swedish inventors at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
Working with cellulose nanofibers, which coat the cell walls of wood and are an essential building block, the Swedish team managed to translate the mechanical properties of these nanofibers into larger, lightweight materials.
"The bio-based nanocellulose fibers fabricated here are eight times stiffer and have strengths higher than natural dragline spider silk fibers, generally considered to be the strongest bio-based material," says corresponding author Daniel Söderberg, KTH researcher. "The specific strength is exceeding that of metals, alloys, ceramics and E-glass fibers."
The development process included controlling the flow of these nanofibers suspended in water in a 1mm wide channel milled in stainless steel. Connecting flows of deionized water and low-pH water then aligned the nanofibers, allowing the fibers to self-organize into a well-packed state where they could be joined together.
KTH then densified the material into a "super wood" that has a tensile strength nearly four times greater than steel.
Söderberg says the study opens the way for developing nanofiber material that can be used for larger structures while retaining the nanofibers' tensile strength and ability to withstand mechanical load.
We've written about super wood-based materials quite a bit lately on Woodworking Network. One involves the marine tunicate, an exotic sea invertebrate often used in Asian cuisine, which has been combined with wood pulp to form a new composite material that's flexible, sustainable, non-toxic, and UV light-reflective. The material could be used in construction, food packaging, biomedical devices, cars, trucks, and boats, say researchers.
The other, from University of Maryland scientists, is ten times stronger than regular wood and has an equal strength of steel, but is six times lighter.
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