- Scientists have developed carbon nanotubes over 50,000 times thinner than a human hair which can separate salt from seawater, an advance that may help solve the global water crisis.
- Increasing demands for fresh water pose a global threat to sustainable development, resulting in water scarcity for four billion people, researchers said.
- Current water purification technologies can benefit from the development of membranes with specialised pores that mimic highly efficient and water selective biological proteins.
- The team found that water permeability in carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with diameters of 0.8 nanometre significantly exceeds that of wider carbon nanotubes.
- The nanotubes, hollow structures made of carbon atoms in a unique arrangement, are more than 50,000 times thinner than a human hair.
- The super smooth inner surface of the nanotube is responsible for their remarkably high water permeability, while the tiny pore size blocks larger salt ions.
- Carbon nanotubes with diameters smaller than a nanometre bear a key structural feature that enables enhanced transport.
- The narrow hydrophobic channel forces water to translocate in a single-file arrangement, a phenomenon similar to that found in the most efficient biological water transporters.
- Carbon nanotubes are a unique platform for studying molecular transport and nanofluidics.