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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592
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Imaging Wood Chemicals in Three Dimensions

Two-dimensional rendering of three-dimensional chemistry of poplar wood with representative spectra of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. Barbara Illman and USDA Forst Service
Two-dimensional rendering of three-dimensional chemistry of poplar wood with representative spectra of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. Barbara Illman and USDA Forst Service
Snapshot: For the first time, chemicals in wood were visualized in 3-dimensions. This advance in chemical analysis will help clarify scientists' understanding of wood architecture, strength properties, durability, and cell wall deconstruction for conversion of lignocellulose to bioplastics, biofuels, nanocellulose, and other value-added chemicals.
Summary:

Elucidating the 3-dimensional (3D) molecular architecture of wood cell walls is a challenging problem. Although general aspects of cell-wall assembly and synthesis are becoming clear, the detailed 3D molecular structure remains poorly understood. A critical step in converting biomass to value-added products is the deconstruction of recalcitrant lignified cell walls. A better understanding of microscale structures and chemical compositions will enhance basic understanding of plant cell walls and will help improve lignocellulose conversion efficiency. Synchrotron-based infrared chemical images were generated for poplar wood, meeting our goal to integrate the chemical and morphological characteristics of wood cell walls. The 3D images were obtained with the infrared spectromicroscopy facility known as IRENI (Infrared Environmental Imaging) at the University of Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation Center. This is a pioneering technique equipped with a unique design for illuminating samples that enabled rapid high Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) data collection of all wavelengths (i.e. all chemicals) simultaneously. Additionally, it allowed digitized data analysis and generation of 2D and 3D images. FTIR images showed the spatial distribution of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. This new 3D infrared chemical imaging technology is being used to characterize cellulose nanomaterials and fungal decay of wood.
Princpal Investigator(s):
 Illman, Barbara L.


Research Location:
  • Synchrotron Radiation Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Forest Products Lab


Forest Service Partners:
  • Julia Sedlmair, FPL Postdoc
  • Miriam Unger, FPL & UW-M, Postdoc


External Partners:
  • Carol Hirschmugl, UW-Milwaukee
  • Michael Martin, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Fiscal Year: 2015
Highlight ID: 620
 
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