Nature-inspired Nanomaterial for Water Collection
A novel type of nanomaterial has been developed based on the way one type of beetle obtains water in the dersert. The material, developed at MIT, has a pattern of alternating substances of differing properties. Raised sections are hydrophillic (water attracting), which causes tiny (15-20 microns) water droplets to attach. As these droplets increase in size as more water is added, they spill over to the nearby lower hydrophobic (water repelling) surfaces, which causes the droplets to bead up and roll downwards via gravity to a collection system.
Materials coated with this substance could be used as roofing material in arid locations, and could be up to 10 times more efficient at capturing water as the current method using a polypropylene mesh. The nanomaterial specifically intended for drinking water collection can also include antibacterial agents, resulting in drinkable water right off the roof. Military and industrial applications are also being looked at, to produce self-cleaning and self-decontaminating surfaces.