From: DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory via EurekAlert!
Published August 15, 2016 11:39 AM

SLAC, Stanford gadget grabs more solar energy to disinfect water faster

In many parts of the world, the only way to make germy water safe is by boiling, which consumes precious fuel, or by putting it out in the sun in a plastic bottle so ultraviolet rays will kill the microbes. But because UV rays carry only 4 percent of the sun's total energy, the UV method takes six to 48 hours, limiting the amount of water people can disinfect this way.

Now researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have created a nanostructured device, about half the size of a postage stamp, that disinfects water much faster than the UV method by also making use of the visible part of the solar spectrum, which contains 50 percent of the sun's energy.

In experiments reported today in Nature Nanotechnology, sunlight falling on the little device triggered the formation of hydrogen peroxide and other disinfecting chemicals that killed more than 99.999 percent of bacteria in just 20 minutes. When their work was done the killer chemicals quickly dissipated, leaving pure water behind.

Continue reading at EurekAlert!

Image: An electron micrograph shows the pattern of nanostructured walls on the surface of the device. Plopped into a sample of contaminated water and placed in sunlight, it killed more than 99.999 percent of bacteria in just 20 minutes.

Credit: C. Liu et al., Nature Nanotechnology

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