Nanoparticles for wood preservation

This project focuses on the interaction of nanoparticles with wood, especially the potential for wood preservation.

Wood timber is usually treated with inorganic biocides (copper based complex with chrome or arsenate). Their release in the environment can present some risk. As alternatives, environmentally friendly organic biocides (e.g. emulsion of organic biocides and copper salt) have been consequently investigated.

More recently, research on wood preservation has focused on preservatives and processes to impregnate them into wood based on nanomaterials. Indeed, a combination of nanoparticles and organic biocides has the potential to preserve the natural color of wood and stabilize it against degradation (sunlight, moisture, fungi, etc). However, commercially available nanoparticles are poorly characterized. As a result, particles behavior in wood cells is not perfectly known and not controlled.

The objective of this project is to study the properties and behavior of nanoparticles impregnated in wood. Model nanoparticles of different sizes, types and properties (e.g. fluorescent silica nanoparticles) are synthesized and impregnated in wood. The impregnation process is done in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences in Biel.

Samples are characterized by different methods like confocal laser scanning microscopy, scanning electronic microscopy, Raman spectroscopy or small angle X-ray scattering in order to investigate nanoparticle-wood interactions. The findings will be used to improve impregnation, develop new type of biocidal nanoparticles and evaluate their risk.

Principal investigator

Involved people

External partners

Prof. Bernard Grobety

Department of Geoscience, University of Fribourg

Prof. Thomas Volkmer

Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering, Bern University of Applied Sciences


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Adolphe Merkle Institute - Chemin des Verdiers 4 - CH-1700 Fribourg - Phone +41 26 300 9254