Here's an excellent introduction to the concept of wood nanotechnology, courtesy of TAPPI and the US Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory. If you're a traditional wood producer or user, you may wonder why wood should be processed into even smaller and more fundamental units. After all, we make enough products from wood now, right?
Well, yeah, sort of...but think about it this way. A ton of wood, in the form of firewood, might bring the producer $200 or so. (By the way, that's about the same value a ton of wood can currently produce in cellulosic ethanol. Energy is energy, in the marketplace.) That same ton, in the form of oriented strandboard, might bring you $500. Refine it further yet, and that ton in the form of a specialty paper might bring the producer $1,000. There seems to be a principle in play here...the further wood can be refined, the more potential value it may have. That's what the science and application of wood-based nano-technology brings us...potentially higher value from the woods.
The video has some great images, but is a little short on detail. I'll cover the topic in more detail in future Wood Science 101 posts.