Pressure-treating, which entails putting wood inside a pressurized watertight tank and forcing chemicals into the boards, has been employed for over a century to help stave off the fungus that causes wood rot in wet settings.
A research team at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new technique that could someday replace standard pressure treating as a way to make lumber not only fungal-resistant but also almost impervious to water and more thermally insulating.
The new technique, which will be revealed on February 13 in the journal Langmuir and jointly backed by the Department of Defense, the Gulf Research Program, and the Westendorf Undergraduate Analysis Fund, involves making use of a protective coating of metal oxide that’s just a few atoms thick all through the entire mobile structure of the wood.
This process, often known as atomic layer deposition, is already employed in manufacturing microelectronics for computers and cell phones; however, now is being explored for new applications in commodity items, including wood.
Like pressure treatments, the process is carried out in an airtight chamber; however, in this case, the chamber is at low pressures to help the gas molecules penetrate the wood structure.
As the fuel molecules travel down those routes, they react with the pore’s surfaces to deposit a conformal, atomic-scale layer of metal oxide all through the interior of the wood.