In 2019, it seems there isn't anything that can't be made from wood.
Traditionally, fiber optic cables, which make high speed internet possible, contain long threads of either glass or plastic that transmit pulses of light for miles - bridging data centers, cities, and continents together. Unlike metal wires that carry electricity, fiber optic cables carry light - in which photons bounce around continuously from one end of the wire to the other.
And now, Finnish researchers from the VTT Technical Research Institute have ditched glass and plastic for a new medium: Wood-based cellulose.
In an age of rapid technological advancements in electronics, VTT researchers chose wood because it breaks down and biodegrades when discarded.
Researchers say it will be quite a while before their breakthough becomes the norm though. The cable's ability to carry photons will have to be improved, they say, as plastic and glass are still superior. However, wood cables exhibit unique characteristics, like the ability to absorb water. An immediate application they say could be as a moisture meter for structures made of wood or other materials that don't interact well with water.
Other materials recently developed from wood:
A wood-based material that could replace flexible plastic packaging.
One that involves the marine tunicate, an exotic sea invertebrate often used in Asian cuisine, which has been combined with wood pulp to form a 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.
French tire maker Michelin has declared that it will begin manufacturing wood-based tires. University of Delaware researchers have developed wood-based sticky tape.
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