Your Next Car Might Be Made of Wood. Here's Why.


Teng Li and Liangbing Hu on “super” wood

Materials science is a field currently getting a lot of very deserved attention. Recently, two professors at the University of Maryland made a remarkable discovery about one of the oldest materials used by humans — wood — that has remarkable implications for the future. They were able to develop a process to fundamentally transform the properties of this material into one that is both lighter and stronger than steel.¬†We spoke with the innovators behind this process, Dr. Teng Li and Dr. Liangbing Hu, to talk about their discovery and its implications for the economy and for industry. The process might well revolutionize everything from automaking to homebuilding, but first it needs to be brought up to scale.


About Teng Li and Liangbing Hu:

Teng Li is Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Keystone Professor, Clark School of Engineering, Affiliated Faculty, Maryland NanoCenter, Affiliated Faculty, University of Maryland Energy Research Center and the Associate Editor, Extreme Mechanics Letters.

Liangbing Hu leads a team working on various types of energy device, which include Li-ion and Na-ion batteries, supercapacitors, next-generation solar cells and photo-electrochemical water splitting. Devices enabled by nanomaterials and nanostructures will be a major emphasis in his research. Fundamental chemistry, physics, electrochemistry and material science will be heavily investigated in these new devices. Dr. Hu is also interested in printed electronics for circuits, display and biological applications.

Dr. Hu did his PhD in nanoelectronics at UCLA, had three-year industry experience in large-scale nano-ink based roll-to-roll printed electronics at Unidym Inc and did his postdoc research in Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors at Stanford. His research at UMD UMERC will focus on not only solving the energy problems with scalable manufacturing techniques and earthly abundant materials, but also attacking their fundamentals with the understanding in nanoscale.