FREE SHRINKAGE OF WOOD DETERMINED AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL USING AN ENVIRONMENTAL SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPE

Giana Almeida, Françoise Huber, Patrik Perré

Abstract


The shrinkage at the cellular level was determined in the transverse plane of wood using an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM). The whole procedure is based on pairs of images grabbed with the same imaging conditions (magnification, working distance, voltage) without removing the sample from the chamber: one image collected at saturated conditions (1067 Pa, 1°C) and the other at air-dry state (533 Pa, 16°C). A closed chain of the same reference points chosen from the anatomical markers was defined on both images at the external part of the zone of interest. A custom software program, called MeshPore, allowed the shrinkage coefficients to be extracted from the slight difference of shape between these two chains.

Measurements of transverse shrinkage were performed on earlywood and latewood zones from Norway spruce (Picea abies), only normal wood was studied. The interested zones were isolated from the rest of the annual ring with the aid of a microtome blade, insuring the observations to be done under free shrinkage. As additional features, the changes of the cellular morphology and the cell wall thickness were also evaluated thanks to the resolution provided by the ESEM.


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