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Students Create See Through Wood Technology

The Austrian Institute for Wood Technology claims to have come up with a new technique for making wood see-through thanks to an idea by two 18-year-old students.

The Institute based at Kuchl in Austria has already fitted wooden parquet flooring with the new technology that allows LEDs under the floor to come through and also fitted drawers and cupboards with the see-through wood.

Pals Alexander Grünwald and Florian Palli found that by putting wood into what is effectively a high-pressure cooker and heating it together with resin up 140°C makes the liquid very fluid and forces it under pressure deep into the wood. The consequence is that when removed and dry the wood is capable of transmitting light.

Alexander said: "Up until now it's only been possible to have wood as a see-through material when it was cut extremely thin. That means that between 0.3 and 0.5 mm. It makes it relatively impractical for use but the new technique means for example that you can have wooden floors with LED lights underneath. Our new technique means wood is suddenly practical for example in usage on aeroplanes as flooring where you need to light up the exits. It really brings the wood to life and opens up a whole range of possibilities from an architectural point of view.

Up until now the only technology for making would see through is involved putting fibre-optic strips through the wood, an expensive and complicated process.

In contrast the teenagers idea involves treating the dry wood for two hours in a relatively quick and uncomplicated process.

Florian added: "Once we had the idea it took several months to refine and we estimate it will be going to take about two years in total to make it fully commercially viable but it definitely works, it's simply a question now of the modifications to make it a commercial success."

Lecturer Markus Rettenbacher who was helping the two teenagers to refine their creation said: "It has a lot of possibilities."

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