General, Research, Technology

Is science capable of creating artificial wood?

Scientists already know how to create artificial meat, thanks to which in the future people will killfewer animals. But artificial wood still does not exist and therefore we are forced to cut down trees and deprive animals of their natural habitat. But this also leads to their gradual extinction. Fortunately, American scientists have recently taken the first steps towards solving this problem. They have learned to multiply plant cells in such a way that they end up with a structure that is very similar in properties to real wood. But the main feature of the developed technology is that, in theory, wood can be immediately given the desired shape. To make a table or other furniture, you do not need to grow boards, saw them and fasten them to each other. You just need to let plant cells multiply without going beyond certain limits.

Scientists have taken a big step towards the creation of artificial wood

More about what is artificial meat and how it is created, you can read in this material. But first, let's talk about artificial wood.

How is artificial wood made?

On a new technology for creating artificialwood was reported in the scientific journal New Atlas. The authors of the scientific discovery are employees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, headed by Professor Ashley Beckwith. They decided to use living cells taken from the leaves of the zinnia plant as a raw material for the production of artificial wood. It can grow anywhere in the world and is often used in scientific work. For example, in 2016, zinnia became the first plant to bloom aboard the International Space Station.

This is what zinnia flowers look like. You've probably seen them before

As part of a new scientific work, researchersremoved living cells of zinnium and placed them in a nutrient medium. After making sure that the cells began to reproduce, the scientists transferred them to a three-dimensional form, inside which they could continue to reproduce. The plant hormones auxin and cytokinin were added to the cells so that they began to produce a substance referred to as lignin... It is this that gives the wood its hardness - in fact, this is the basis of the material being developed. Ultimately, lignin and plant cells filled the voids inside the volumetric mold.

Artificial wood growing scheme

According to scientists, changing the concentration of twohormones, artificial wood can be given different levels of hardness. Only at the moment they were able to create only a very small figure. And they didn't say how long it took to create it. But if it takes weeks or even months for cells to multiply and produce lignin, this is a great technology. Furniture manufacturers will be able to produce relatively cheap products, which did not damage a single real tree. But for the developed technology to become widespread, a lot of additional research needs to be done. At a minimum, you need to check how durable the products from artificial wood are and whether this material is harmful to human health.

See also: Why are satellites made of metal and not wood?

What is artificial wood for?

Scientists themselves know what they have yet to decidemany questions. According to one of the study's authors, Luis Fernando Velasquez-Garcia, they need to find out if this trick works with living cells taken from the leaves of other plants. Indeed, if furniture manufacturers suddenly attack the zinnias mentioned above, they will very quickly disappear from the face of our planet. Protectors of nature can take them under protection in time, but in this case it will be possible to put an end to the developed technology for the production of artificial wood. So the hope is that cells from other plants interact with lignin in the same way.

Artificial wood structure under the microscope

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But American scientists are not the only ones whoexperimenting with wood. In 2019, author Ilya Khel spoke about how Swedish scientists managed to develop a transparent material that has all the woody properties. It transmits sunlight quite well, but it absorbs and emits heat. If such a material ever becomes popular, unusual homes may appear in the world that save on electricity and heating. Only the transparent houses are something from the novel "We" by Zamyatin. And hardly anyone wants to live in such a future.