Scientists have developed a new method of creating nanoporous materials with potential applications in everything from water purification to chemical sensors.
In order to produce a porous material it is necessary to have multiple components. When the minor component is removed, small pores are left in its place. Until now, creating nanoporous materials was limiting as it was believed the minor component had to be connected throughout the structure as well as to the outside in order for it to be removed.
However, new research published today (Sunday, 27 November) in the journal Nature Materials has demonstrated a much more effective, flexible method called collective osmotic shock (COS) for creating porous structures. The research, by scientists at the University of Cambridge, has shown how by using osmotic forces even structures with minor components entirely encapsulated in a matrix can be made porous (or nanoporous).
The lead author, Dr Easan Sivaniah from the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory, explains how the process works: "The experiment is rather similar to the classroom demonstration using a balloon containing salty water. How does one release the salt from the balloon? The answer is to put the balloon in a bath of fresh water. The salt can't leave the balloon but the water can enter, and it does so to reduce the saltiness in the balloon. As more water enters, the balloon swells, and eventually bursts, releasing the salt completely.
"In our experiments, we essentially show this works in materials with these trapped minor components, leading to a series of bursts that connect together and to the outside, releasing the trapped components and leaving an open porous material."
The researchers have also demonstrated how the nanoporous materials created by the unique process can be used to develop filters capable of removing very small dyes from water.
Dr Sivaniah added: "It is currently an efficient filter system that could be used in countries with poor access to fresh potable water, or to remove heavy metals and industrial waste products from ground water sources. Though, with development, we hope it can also be used in making sea-water drinkable using low-tech and low-power routes."
Other applications were explored in collaboration with groups having expertise in photonics (Dr Hernan Miguez, University of Sevilla) and optoelectronics (Professor Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Laboratory). Light-emitting devices were demonstrated using titania electrodes templated from COS materials whilst the novel stack-like arrangement of materials provide uniquely efficient photonic multilayers with potential applications as sensors that change colour in response to absorbing trace amounts of chemicals, or for use in optical components.
Dr Sivaniah added, "We are currently exploring a number of applications, to include use in light-emitting devices, solar cells, electrodes for supercapacitors as well as fuels cells."For additional information please contact:
2. The work was funded by the Qatar Foundation (QNRF), EPSRC, CONACyT, and the Spanish Ministry of Science.
Easan Sivaniah | EurekAlert!
ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials
21.07.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing
20.07.2017 | University of Leeds
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy