In the process of experimenting with wood, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and the Royal New Zealand Research Institute (Scion Research Institute) have developed a unique material based on balsa.
In the beginning, the wood was treated with a special solution to remove lignin, a substance in the cells of trees and plants that provides their rigidity, and half of hemicellulose, another key cellular component. As a result, scientists managed to obtain a kind of porous framework.
Then another solution was poured into it, filling the formed voids with semiconductor nanoparticles - quantum dots that glow under the influence of ultraviolet radiation. At the next stage, the material was pressed, dried and coated with a hydrophobic layer.
The resulting wood material has a high density, water resistance and excellent mechanical properties. However, its main feature is the ability to glow and illuminate the space. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the quantum dots emit and scatter orange light over the entire surface of the film, which the team used to illuminate the interior of the toy house.
The researchers hope to use different varieties of quantum dots to create colorful lights. The wood film developed by them can be used as decorative caps for lamps and displays, becoming an environmentally friendly alternative to plastics and other materials.