Man of cellulose

Materials World magazine
11 May 2018

Nano-sized cellulose has been deemed the strongest building material by KTH.

That is how researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, are referring to the outcome of a study exploring the strongest known material. Arranged nano-sized cellulose managed to beat steel, silk, and spider silk among others.

The team, led by Daniel Söderberg, observed the structure of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) in cell wall layers in wood. But so far, researchers have failed to replicate this structure in man-made nanoscale substances due to poor adhesion and unaligned components.

The team used flow-assisted assembly to organise CNF into ‘near-perfect’ alignment. According to KTH, ‘even the weakest fibre made with this method was stronger than other CNF fibres previously reported’, and were stronger than metal, alloys, and glass fibres.

Regardless of the accuracy of the statement, Materials World might risk a prediction that it is unlikely to catch on as a slogan.