A SURPRISING “HIVE” OF CELLS
Dec 29, 2017

THE VERY FIRST CELL... 

was identified by the English scientist 

Robert Hooke, who observed tiny pieces of 

cork under a microscope. Hooke observed 

small cavities which he named “cells” 

(from the Latin cella = enclosed space, 

small compartment)

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Representation of Hooke’s first microscope 

(from the book “Micrographia” by Robert Hooke).



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Drawings of Robert Hooke after observing the

cork cells under a microscope (“Micrographia” 

by Robert Hooke)


The cork cells are grouped into a characteristic honeycomb structure. Each cell has 

the form of a minute pentagonal or hexagonal prism, that can measure between 

10 and 50 thousandths of a millimetre.

Each cubic centimetre of cork contains 

around 40 million cells which are laid out 

in rows perpendicular to the trunk of the 

cork oak.

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CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF CORK

The great secret of cork lies in the gas mixture similar to 

air that fills each cell and the percentage of suberin in the 

cell walls. 

The high percentage of gas of each cell is responsible for 

the extraordinary lightness of cork, while the association 

of these cells as if they were small pillows joined together 

is responsible for its elasticity and compressibility. 

Cork can be compressed to half its size without losing 

any flexibility

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AN INIMITABLE PERSONALITY!

It is impossible to mimic so many features simultaneously in a single material! There is no material in the world 

like cork ... none that is able to unite all of these features:

> Excellent thermal and acoustic insulation 

> Impermeable to liquids and gases

> Excellent resistance to fire and high temperatures 

> High friction resistance 

> Excellent elasticity and compressibility 

> Good resilience 

> Extremely light and buoyant 

> Hypoallergenic 

> Comfortable 

> Soft to the touch