AsianScientist (Aug. 20, 2018) – A team of scientists in China has developed a method to create artificial wood from synthetic resins. Their findings are published in Science Advances.
Nature has provided us with not only fantastic materials, but also inspiration for designing and fabricating high-performance biomimetic engineering materials. Wood, which has been used for thousands of years, has received considerable attention due to its low density and high strength.
The unique anisotropic cellular structure of wood (which gives wood its grain) endows it with outstanding mechanical properties. In recent decades, various materials have been developed to mimic the lightweight and high-strength nature of wood.
In the present study, a research team led by Professor Yu Shuhong from the University of Science and Technology of China has devised a strategy for the large-scale fabrication of a family of bioinspired polymeric woods. They used traditional resins such as phenolic and melamine resin, which can be self-assembled and cross-linked (cured) in a variety of ways by varying temperature.
The liquid thermoset resins were first unidirectionally frozen, then cured at temperatures no higher than 200 degrees Celsius to produce the artificial polymeric wood. The artificial wood bears a close resemblance to natural woods, and the pore size and wall thickness of the wood could be easily controlled.
The polymeric and composite wood also exhibit lightweight and high-strength properties, with mechanical strength comparable to that of natural wood. In contrast with natural wood, artificial wood possesses better corrosion resistance to water and acid, better thermal insulation (as low as ~21 mW m-1 K-1) and improved fire retardancy.
The artificial polymeric wood is also superior to other engineering materials such as cellular ceramic materials and aerogels in terms of specific strength and thermal insulation properties. The researchers noted that their biomimetic material could replace natural wood in harsh environments.
The article can be found at: Yu et al. (2018) Bioinspired Polymeric Woods.
Source: University of Science and Technology of China; Photo: Pexels.
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