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!
New materials: Growing polymer pelts
19.11.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Why geckos can stick to walls
19.11.2018 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy