The distribution of introduced acetyl groups and a linseed oil model substance in wood examined by microautoradiography and ESEM
Microautoradiography, a photographic method that shows the localization of substances labelled with radioactive isotope, and Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM) were combined to enhance sensitivity, resolution and reliability for examination of the distribution of introduced substances in wood. The preparation of microautoradiographs is less complicated when investigated with ESEM and the preparation of ESEM-samples is quick and easy compared to a conventional SEM. When investigating microautoradiographs with ESEM, the wood structure is observed underneath the almost transparent photographic film. Silver grains, indicating the location of studied substances, are clearly distinguish from the wood material. The technique was used in two case studies for examination of cell wall penetration and distribution in pine sapwood. The distribution of acetyl groups, introduced by acetylation with acetic anhydride, and the distribution of a linseed oil model substance, triglycerol trioleate, were examined. Examinations of introduced acetyl groups showed an even distribution of acetyl groups in the wood cell wall at acetylation level of about 5, 15 and 20% (weight gain). Examination of the linseed oil model substance, glycerol trioleate, showed the presence of the model substance on applied surfaces, in rays and in lumen of some latewood cells. No cell wall penetration was observed.