Carbon nanotube membranes with ultrahigh specific adsorption capacity for water desalination and purification

Hui Ying Yang, Zhao Jun Han, Siu Fung Yu, Kin Leong Pey, Kostya Ostrikov, Rohit Karnik

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

245 Citations (Scopus)


Development of technologies for water desalination and purification is critical to meet the global challenges of insufficient water supply and inadequate sanitation, especially for point-of-use applications. Conventional desalination methods are energy and operationally intensive, whereas adsorption-based techniques are simple and easy to use for point-of-use water purification, yet their capacity to remove salts is limited. Here we report that plasma-modified ultralong carbon nanotubes exhibit ultrahigh specific adsorption capacity for salt (exceeding 400% by weight) that is two orders of magnitude higher than that found in the current state-of-the-art activated carbon-based water treatment systems. We exploit this adsorption capacity in ultralong carbon nanotube-based membranes that can remove salt, as well as organic and metal contaminants. These ultralong carbon nanotube-based membranes may lead to next-generation rechargeable, point-of-use potable water purification appliances with superior desalination, disinfection and filtration properties.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2220
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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