Technical information

BOKU Wood quality and tree physiology platform

Fields of application

  • Forestry
  • Wood quality
  • Tree physiology
  • Biorefinery

The facilities offered include:

  • Infrared Spectroscopy: Sample preparation (milling, sectioning, polishing), FT-IR and FT-NIR measurements with the demanded accessories, spectra interpretation and multivariate methods, use of already established calibration models for prediction of wood properties (if possible, dependent on tree species).
  • Wood anatomy and hydraulic trails: wood sectioning and image analysis to determine cell wall parameters; determination of hydraulic conductivity and vulnerability
  • Microdensitometry: Sample preparation; Acquisition of density profiles and analysis

Infrared lab

BOKU infrared lab

(Infrared spectroscopy: Several spectrometers are accessible (e.g. A =BRUKER FT-IR Vertex) and are equipped with different accessories (e.g. B= fibre probe, C= coupled to a microscope Hyperion 2000, D= ATR-objective for microscopy). We assist in acquisition of spectra and processing ( E = second derivatives of larch heartwood spectra) and data analysis (e.g. F = Classification by principal component analysis of different larch species, G= Partial least square regression model to predict natural durability (weight loss after fungal decay).)
  • BRUKER FT-NIR Equinox 55 with a NIR fibre optic probe for measuring solid samples in diffuse reflectance or liquid samples in transflection
  • BRUKER FT-IR Tensor with a Helios ATR
  • BRUKER FT-IR Vertex 70 with a microplate extension HTS-XT that allows the application of FT-IR spectroscopy as method for high-throughput screening of small volumes of liquid samples. Additionally several asseccories such as ATR-units for liquid samples and solid samples; transmission cells for liquid samples.
  • BRUKER FT-(N)IR Vertex 70 for measuring samples in transmission (MIR and NIR) or with an ATR device.
  • BRUKER FT-IR Vertex 70 with a microscope Hyperion 2000 a fully automated microscope with motorized stage and an additional LCD screen on the microscope frame for microscopic analysis in transmission with15x objective or transparent or reflective samples can be readily analyzed utilizing the ATR-objective (20x) which for the HYPERION combines a visual sample inspection without restrictions with highest sensitivity of the IR measurement that can be used for automated ATR mapping measurements.
  • BRUKER FT-IR Vertex 70 with the PMA 50 module which is a dedicated accessory for the polarization modulation (linear dichroitic) infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (PM-IRRAS). Infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS) is an established analytical technique for the characterization of adsorbed matter and thin layers on metal surfaces. The PM-IRRAS technique takes advantage of the different absorption of p- and s-polarized light at large angles of incidence. The ultra-thin layers on metal surfaces interact with the p-polarized fraction of light, but not with the s-polarized one.
  • BRUKER FT-IR Vertex 70 with the PMA 50 module also enables circular dichroitic (VCD - Vibrational Circular Dichroism) measurements for the investigation of chiral molecules.
  • BRUKER FT-IR Vertex 70 for rapid-scan and step-scan measurements for time-resolved experiments.
  • Software: Opus (BRUKER), The Unscrambler (CAMO)

Anatomical and physiological lab

BOKU anatomy lab

(High quality wood microsections can be cut on a rotary microtome (A) and stained with different procedures (hardwood (B) and softwood (C). The sections can be used for measuring cell wall thickness and cell diameters (D).)

  •  LEICA RM2235 Rotary Microtome for production of semi-thin sections
  • JUNG-REICHERT Sliding Microtome for production of thin sections
  • Leica DM4000 M microscope equipped with a Leica DFC320 R2 digital camera and Leica IM 500 Image Manager image analyzing software (Leica, Wetzlar, Germany)
  • PMS pressure collar, max 8 MPa, for constructing hydraulic vulnerability curves
  • SPERRY Apparatus for measuring hydraulic conductivity, designed by Stefan Mayr
BOKU hydraulic lab

(On water saturated wood samples (A) the hydraulic properties can be determined using the Sperry apparatus (B) and the pressure collar (C). Typical results are vulnerability curves (D), which estimate a trees susceptibility to drought stress.)

X-ray lab

BOKU x-ray lab

(Double blade saw (A) used to cut out 1-2mm thin samples of wood cores for X-ray densitometry, which results in radial profiles (B) used to derive ring width and ring density (C).)

  • Double blade circular saw: to cut 1-2mm thin samples out of wood cores
  • Rich. Seifert – x-ray tube: 2.2 m distance, usual settings: 12kV, 24mA, 25 minutes. Analyses with the help of WinDendro

Examples of use

Infrared Spectroscopy

  • Characterisation, classification and prediction of wood properties with models based on MIR and NIR spectra, examples are:
    • Studies on Heartwood characteristics: Natural durability of wood, Prediction of wood extractives, Evaluation of wood degradation by fungi
    • Lignin content of wood
    • Determination of the degree of chemical modification of wood, e.g. acetylationFT-IR microscopic study on enzymatic treatment of poplar wood cross-sections

Anatomic and hydraulic properties

  • Wood structure/anatomy (cell wall diameter, thickness) is influenced by genetics and growth environment and important for its mechanical performance
  • Reaction wood tissues (Tension wood, Compression wood) with special properties can be identified and characterised.
  • Hydraulic conductivity and vulnerability: Vulnerability to cavitation estimates a tree’s susceptibility to drought stress


  • Wood density profiles are used in dendroclimatology and wood quality (e.g. influence of drought on wood quality) 

Download further information as a pdf.

More detailed information is also available on the research homepages of the BOKU Trees4Future team: