In a study funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, researchers have found that the process of layering nanoparticles could be used to provide safe and affordable water filters to the developing world. The process is called “atomic layer deposition” and involves layering nanoparticles onto a metal or a ceramic to create a thin film of cells. The layer can be applied to the particles used in water filtration devices. The metal or ceramic filtration particles would remove large impurities and the film would neutralize bacteria.
Over one billion people on earth don’t have access to safe drinking water. Water issues are the focus of many design for humanity projects and the ability to provide inexpensive water filters is a huge task for outreach organizations. Providing or creating water filters that are antimicrobial can prove to be a costly adventure. If the scientists involved in this study are able to take the next step into usable filtration devices it could mean a huge boost for clean drinking water missions.
“This would be very helpful in the developing world, or in disaster situations — like Haiti — where people do not have access to safe water,” noted lead author of the paper Dr. Roger Narayan of the joint biomedical engineering department of NC State’s College of Engineering and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The thin film of nanoparticles could neutralize bacteria that leads to diseases like trachoma, cholera, trichuriasis and hookworm infection that cause millions of illnesses and deaths each year.