The nanoscience of wood structure - Nature was there first

April 11, 2002

Blacksburg, Va., April 11, 2002 -- How does Nature hold wood together? Virginia Tech researchers are studying xylan, wood's natural glue, as a guide for designing better materials.

The research will be presented at the 223rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, April 7-11 in Orlando.

Xylan is the glue in wood that provides a smooth transition from the highly-crystalline cellulose to the glass-like lignin," says Wolfgang Glasser, professor of wood science and forest products at Virginia Tech. "When we make composites, we don't understand enough about the interface between fibers and the matrix (glue). So, we are trying to imitate nature -- or, actually, do 'biomimicry', using nature as our guide for how to put materials together on the nanoscale. We are studying the hierarchy or order of how different components are assembled in composite materials."

Glasser and his students, with the help of chemistry professor Alan Esker, are using the Langmuir Blodgett technique to create surfaces; surface plasmon resonance to study adsorption phenomena; and atomic force microscopy to study how xylans self assemble to give wood the hierarchical order that is the essence of nanomaterials.

"Aspects of Xylan self-assembly" (Cell 150), by Glasser, Esker, and Wood Science and Forest Products graduate students Sylvie Jamin, Scott Renneckar, and Shinji Beppu, will be presented at 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, at Conventon Center room 311C, level three.
Contact for more information:
Dr. Glasser,, 540-231-4403
PR CONTACT: Lynn Davis (540) 231-6157

Virginia Tech

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