Researchers in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University have created an entirely new composite material based on wood and plastic. The new material is stronger and less expensive to manufacture than other products currently available and represents something of a breakthrough for this "growing" industry. Wood-plastic composites, are commonly used in outdoor domestic settings for outdoor decking and other such implementations. "Composite products made from wood and plastic are highly desirable for their low maintenance and ability to resist rot," explains OSU's Kaichang Li, "But their use has been limited because of high cost and low strength, a result of inadequate adhesion between the wood fibers and plastic." Wood and plastic do not form a natural bond, but Li and his colleagues have created what they call a "compatibilizer", a novel polymer that acts as a bridge between the wood fibers and the main polymer's chains.