Nano Science and Technology Institute

University Team Creates Novel Nanotube Membranes to Control Water

NWN Learns More About The Nanotubes and Next Steps for This Research From Lead Researcher and RPI Associate Professor Nikhil Koratkar, PhD.
water transport in nanotube membrane
Precise control of water transport through a nanotube membrane is demonstrated by the new electro-chemical approach. Credit: Rensselaer

A research team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, led by Associate Professor Nikhil Koratkar, PhD, has discovered that by fusing wet and dry nanotechnologies, they were able to control the flow of water through carbon nanotube membranes with ultimate precision.

Dr. Koratkar tells NWN, “The idea is to combine high flow rates with high selectivity. In theory, this is only possible with carbon nanotube membranes, which have nanoscale pores yet offer very high through-put.” One valuable potential use for the CNT membranes would be for water purification; “removal of arsenic, selenium or nitrates from water are important needs,” notes Koratkar.

The research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and while it has led to promising results, “the work is still in the very initial stages.” The next steps, according to Koratkar, “would be to develop nanotube membranes for specific micro-filtration applications. This will involve functionalizing the nanotube walls with capture agents to specifically target the impurity of interest.”

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