Transparent wood (TW) shows interesting optical properties and offers a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based polymer glasses. The influence of the TW internal structure (e.g. fiber alignment, volume fraction of cellulose, lignin content, defects from preparation process) on the optical properties is poorly understood, which limits its use in various applications. It is also true for transparent cellulose biocomposites in general. In this thesis, eco-friendly TW biocomposites are investigated. The work focuses on experimental characterization, structure-optical property relationships and possibilities to quantify such relationships.
TWs made of delignified wood substrates with longitudinal direction of the tree parallel to the specimen surface are prepared. Relationships between anisotropic scattering and fiber alignment are studied by scattering angle measurement. Anisotropic photons distributions are compared between two fiber directions and various sample thicknesses. Next, attenuation coefficients (related to the anisotropic diffusion coefficients and absorption coefficient) for TWs are obtained by combining the photon diffusion equation with total transmittance measurements. The results indicate strong influence from the air gaps between wood substrate phase and polymer in the lumen pores on the scattering. Beside the airgaps between wood substrate and polymer, refractive index mismatch between polymer and wood substrate strongly influences the scattering. Thus, immersion liquid method (based on the total transmittance measurement) combined with a light transmission model (based on Fresnel reflection theory) is applied to estimate the refractive index of the delignified wood substrate. This facilitates TW design (i.e. the proper polymer selection for various applications) and modelling of the optical properties of delignified wood based transparent materials. Finally, extinction coefficients, Rayleigh scattering and absorption coefficients of TW are extracted from photon budget measurements combined with a light diffusion model developed. With higher volume fraction of cellulose, all these parameters are increased, although polymer-cellulose refractive index mismatch is the dominating factor controlling transmittance. The strong forward scattering in TW is analysed, and Rayleigh scattering has a strong effect on haze. The influence of lignin content on the absorption coefficient is also discussed.