Ever thought that a wooden bulletproof vest could be a thing of the future instead of the past? A scientist named Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland and a few other workmates, are making this and many other useful objects possible.
Many other scientists have tried and failed to make wood really strong by compressing the wood together, making it more dense, but dense wood tends to return to its original shape and size. But a new densifying process can result in wood stronger than steel that does not expand.
The process according to Hu is quite simple; it only takes two steps to make a strong piece of wood. The first step is to boil the wood in a solution of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfite, similar to the process that causes the wood to turn into pulp. The next step is to compress the wood together while keeping it hot, causing the hydrogen atoms to bond with other atoms making it super wood. Hu and his co-workers even tested the wood by putting it in a room with high humidity for five days. The super wood expanded only by ten percent, but with a coat of extra paint that eliminated the problem.
Hu and his co-workers think that this new wood could be used not just for furniture and home builds but for replacing metals on cars with wood or in bulletproof vests. This new creation of densified wood is especially important because wood is much more available and much less expensive than metals.
[Source: Scientific American]