Bioinspired polymeric woods

Journal: Science Advances

Published: 2018-08-01

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat7223

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 13

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Research Highlight

Fireproof wood doesn’t grow on trees

© MirageC/Getty

© MirageC/Getty

Fake wood could be a strong, safe and durable alternative to natural timber.

Nature has inspired the design of many high-performance materials, and wood has received particular attention as it is both lightweight and strong. But making wood-like materials that withstand the elements, from freezing winters to fire, is challenging.

Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China carefully mimicked the chemical components and cellular structure of wood to create a range of artificial woods that can be made easily out of traditional resins.

Crucially, they replaced the natural polymer lignin with resol — a synthetic polymer has the same web-like structure and strong binding properties as lignin, but is also a fire retardant. The fake woods matched natural wood in strength, but provided better insulation and were not damaged by humidity or acid.

Artificial wood could replace natural woods for buildings in harsh environments.

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  1. Science Advances 4, eaat7223 (2018). doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat7223
Institutions Share
University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), China 0.38
Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale (HFNL), China 0.21
CAS Center for Excellence in Nanoscience, NCNST CAS, China 0.21
CAS Hefei Science Center, China 0.21