Researchers Devise Artificial Woods from Conventional Resins

Published Date : Aug 16, 2018

The development of materials that mimic wood, featuring anisotropic cellular structures, which are the reason behind the excellent mechanical performance possessed by wood, has witnessed vast attention in the past few decades. Despite several developments and the introduction of a variety of materials over the years, the research sector has been unable to develop a material that can match the mechanical properties of natural wood, with limitations often arising when it comes to the weight or the strength of the product.

However, a recent research study provides promise in this regards. Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) have successfully established the development of the large-scale manufacturing of family of polymeric woods that possess wood-like cellular microstructures. This bio-inspired family of artificial woods is produced with the help of a mechanism that involves thermocuring and self-assembly of conventional resins such as melamine and phenolic resin.

The resins in use were uni-directionally frozen at the beginning of the process to be able to form an intermediate material with cellular structure, which was then followed by thermocuring. The artificial wood that resulted from this procedure displayed close semblance to natural wood in terms of mesoscale cellular structures. The wood also displayed high ability to control wall thickness and pore size. As the process starts with an aqueous solution, it is also an environment-friendly procedure to prepare artificial woods.

Along with displaying high-strength, mechanical strength comparable to natural woods, and a lightweight structure, the artificial wood has displayed better resistance to acid and water with no drop in mechanical strength and much better fire retardancy and thermal insulation. The artificial wood also stands out from other popular and vastly used engineered materials such as aerogels and ceramics in terms of thermal insulation and strength.