Sunlight and a Semiconductor for Clean Water

by | 16. Jan 2024 - 10:56 | Technologies

Nano-powder made from indium sulfide enables environmentally friendly water treatment using only sunlight.

People around the world are suffering from water shortages. In addition to dryness and drought, exacerbated by climate change, contamination and a lack of hygiene are critical factors, especially in poorer regions. Innovative solutions for disinfection and cleaning are needed – researchers at the Indian University of Kerala have now developed a nano-powder based on the semiconductor indium sulfide for this purpose, which only requires sunlight and requires no environmentally harmful by-products. This is reported in the Indian newspaper The Hindu.

In its research work, the team found that the size of the nanopores plays a decisive role in controlling the speed of the material in water purification, particularly when indium sulfide is used. According to The Hindu, the interdisciplinary collaboration made it possible to functionalize the material in this way. According to the researchers, the manufacturing process has little impact on the environment, partly because the nanomaterial is synthesized at comparatively low temperatures below 80 degrees Celsius.

It was then tested in practice: Together with water, it was exposed to direct sunlight for two to three hours to clean the sample. At the end of the process, the impurities were absorbed by the nanomaterial, according to The Hindu. For sulforhodamine B, a pollutant often used in cancer tests, an efficiency of 94 percent was achieved, and 92 percent for water contaminated with dye molecules from the textile industry.

The nanomaterial can be recycled several times and reused for water purification, as the researchers have also developed a process to remove the absorbed pollutant.

More on the topic: Also, with the global water shortage in mind, researchers have developed a microporous material based on the metals zirconium and hafnium to extract drinking water from the ambient air, even in arid regions.

Photo: iStock/Jennifer_Sharp

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