Research on Electronic Components Made from Wood Continues to Advance

The Forest Products Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) have a history of collaboration aimed at making electronic components from wood. From flexible electronic screens to computer chips, this partnership has produced fascinating results. Learn more about the latest development in the following article from the UW.

Critical communications component made on a flexible wooden film

By Jason Daley

In the not-too-distant future, flexible electronics will open the door to new products like foldable phones, tablets that can be rolled, paper-thin displays and wearable sensors that monitor health data. Developing these new bendy products, however, means using materials like new plastics and thin films to replace the rigid circuit boards and bulky electronic components that currently occupy the interiors of cell phones and other gadgets.

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FPL Researcher Awarded Fulbright Fellowship

Chris Hunt, a research chemist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to work in Tallinn, Estonia from February to August, 2021.

Chris Hunt, FPL research chemist

The Fulbright Program is devoted to increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Hunt proposed to work on improved techniques for characterizing wood veneer surfaces with respect to bonding performance. His application also included the goal of promoting FPL to European institutions as a destination for scholars wanting to conduct wood science.

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Insect Societies Have A Lot to Teach About Healthy Social Living

Ants Macro on Green Leaves, Naypong Studio – stock.adobe.com

Agriculture is widely considered the start of humanity living in large, closely inhabited settlements as opposed to small nomadic tribes. With any behavioral change, there is a cost-benefit. We are currently experiencing a real-time cost-benefit of living in an agricultural society with the development of the coronavirus pandemic. Social living has increased humanity’s ability to do just about everything including pathogen (bacterium, virus, disease causing microorganism) transmission.

However, humanity is not the only agricultural society successfully living on Earth today. If we look closely—very closely—there are tiny, yet massively populated societies facing the same pathogen transmission challenges.

Some of these societies have developed unique strategies to protect themselves—like a certain species of aphids whose soldiers explode their abdomens to seal and defend their colony from disease threats.

Others employ versions that we see in human communities, like developing a diverse gut microbiome for strong immune systems.

Taking a closer look at social insect models could be the key to unlocking more effective human strategies for pathogen management.

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Forest Service Awards $8.9M in Wood Innovation Grants

Public–private partnerships spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service create jobs, support fire-safe communities, restore healthy forest conditions, and spur environmentally sound innovation. Recently, the Forest Service awarded over $8.9 million through the Wood Innovations Grant program. Thirty-nine business, university, nonprofit and tribal partners in 20 states are matching the grants with an additional $8.8 million.

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Borate and Adhesives: Can They Work in Harmony?

Scientists at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) are continually honing their expertise on all things cross-laminated timber (CLT) and this time, they’re digging deeper to learn how preservatives can protect and enhance this handy material.

Borate, an environmentally friendly preservative, has been proven effective in shielding decay and termite damage, while also protecting CLT’s aesthetic appearance, making it a suitable treatment for interior residential applications. But researchers from the Lab’s Durability and Wood Protection Research unit and Michigan State University are wondering how far borate can go if a sticky situation comes into play.

The project, which began in January 2018, aims to discover how well borate can protect CLT against termites, fungal decay and fire when it teams up with adhesives.

Fire test samples. Top, Class I fire-retardant coating; bottom, borate-treated spruce.

Researchers are currently studying how borate will change the surface properties of CLT.  They plan to compare how adhesive formulations interact with CLT that is treated with borate with that which is left untreated.  The wood will be analyzed using various spectroscopy methods. After measuring the adhesive properties of both polyurethane and phenolic glues, researchers will construct small-scale samples of CLT from borate-treated wood and a range of adhesive formulations.  The strength of these formulations will be tested when they are applied to a selection of treated and untreated CLT.

A borate spray solution will also be developed and applied to various CLT samples, where it will then be observed under conditions like fire, termites, and fungal decay. By the conclusion of the project in 2020, researchers hope to further understand how preservative-treated CLT performs under stress, especially when exposed adhesive is involved.

To learn more about this study and how borate and adhesives coexist, read the full Research in Progress report.