Translucent wood, a material of the future?
Making wood translucent, rot-proof, more resistant to fire and natural deterioration, and improving its structural properties: this is the challenge taken up by a French architect who trained abroad.
The early work of Timothée Boitouzet, in partnership with the Harvard Department of Molecular Biology and Organic Chemistry and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Medialab, consisted of a monomer matrix injected into a 7 to 10 mm thick plank of wood. The injected plastic materials fill the microcavities, as the wood is composed of 60 to 70% of air. This polymerisation not only makes the wood translucent, it also makes it three times stiffer as it becomes denser. After this double transformation, both physical and optical, the base material becomes stronger, more aesthetically-pleasing and more mechanically resistant.
"The first development step could entail making furniture with this bionic wood" said the architect. The next step could entail producing cladding, joinery or floor coverings.
In the long run, its potential could also be exploited in the construction, furniture and design industries, as well as in the marine, automotive and aerospace industries.
"Hopefully, this new material could see the light of day in two to three years". The architect just recently applied for a patent on his product and created the Woodoo start-up for the purpose of commercially exploiting this new material.