When we think of knives we usually picture steel or ceramic, but researchers have developed a way to make strong knives from wood. The material in question is called hardened wood. Material scientists have found a way to make wood 23 times harder and then turned it into a knife that is three times sharper than a stainless-steel dinner table knife.
The method and results are published in the journal Matter. Compared to the production approach for both steel and ceramic, hardened wood knives are likely to be a lot more sustainable. And they can be washed and reused just like regular knives.
“The knife cuts through a medium-well done steak easily, with similar performance to a dinner table knife,” senior author Teng Li, from the University of Maryland, said in a statement.
But it’s not just cutlery. Hardened wood could be employed in other types of objects where iron and steel are commonly used. One example tested by the team is nails. The team nailed three planks of wood together without the nail getting duller in the process.
The starting point for this work was the team recognizing that human-made materials often satisfy needs that natural-based materials cannot. Even though they might have the potential to do so if treated the right way.
“Cellulose, the main component of wood, has a higher ratio of strength to density than most engineered materials, like ceramics, metals, and polymers, but our existing usage of wood barely touches its full potential,” Li explained. (Read more)