Wood Surfaces & Interfaces

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Group-leader: Prof. Ingo Burgert

The Wood Surfaces and Interfaces group explores the toolbox of nanotechnology to valorize this renewable material by improving its surface properties and equip it with novel functionalities. 

While wood as bulk material is lightweight with outstanding mechanical properties, the wood surface provides a unique and well appreciated aesthetic appearance. But it is also the wood surface that is in direct contact with environmental factors that induce wood degradation by UV-light, water or biological attack. To combat this, we investigate novel protective coatings which preserve the aesthetic appearance and attach strongly to the wood interface providing good mechanical stability. 

The morphology and chemistry of wood surfaces control their wetting behaviour. The manipulation of the surface energy allows for the control of adhesion phenomena, compatibility in wood-hybrid materials or repellence of liquids such as water. We investigate various hydrophobization strategies since the hydrophilic nature of wood surfaces is in numerous applications undesired. Inspired by nature, the surface decoration with hydrophobic materials and dual-roughening (as known form the lotus leave) can be used to produce superhydrophobic wood surfaces that repel water and have self-cleaning properties. Being repellent to water is in some instances, not sufficient when surfaces are exposed to non-polar liquids like oil. For this purpose, we extend the bio-inspired surface modification and obtain omniphobic wood surfaces that repel both, water-like and oily liquids. 

We continue our work on chemical wood surface mdification to widen the applicability of this abundant biomaterial by increasing its service life and utilization in new applications. Thereby, we aim at soft chemical methods with low environmental impact. Our expertise allows us to address fundamental questions as well as applied research in collaboration with industrial partners. We modifiy wood with small dimensions at the lab-scale and larger scales in our pilot plant, whee we can produce demonstrators of novel wood products with unprecedented properties.