The University of Maryland has created a new transparent, glass-like material that offers lower thermal conductivity, greater strength, and less environmental impact than traditional glass. Fast Company says the new material can be used for energy-efficient windows and even transparent buildings—and it’s made entirely from wood. The material would allow a building to use less energy to heat and cool, and wood’s composition can reduce sun glare. The process includes brushing the wood with hydrogen peroxide and leaving it under a UV light to remove some of the wood’s lignin. It results in a transparent wood that can be coated in epoxy.
It’s just one of a number of ways scientists and engineers are rethinking how we can use this renewable resource in construction. Skyscrapers made entirely out of wood are gaining popularity in cities around the world. And scientists recently discovered a technique to grow wood in a lab, opening up the possibility of using wood without having to chop down a forest.