Nano-solution to keep water free of infections

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new nanotechnology is likely to make drinking water a lot more safer and keep infections at bay by filtering out deadly bugs at the source.

Both - water molecules and bugs - are so tiny that they are measured by the nanometre, which is 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.

But at the microscopic level, the two actually differ greatly in size. A single water molecule is less than a nanometre wide, while some of the littlest bugs are 200 nanometres.

Working with a specific block co-polymer, a University of Buffalo team has synthesized a new kind of nanomembrane containing pores about 55 nm wide, large enough for water to slip through, but too small for bacteria, reports the journal Nano Letters.

“The pore size is the largest anyone has achieved so far using block co-polymers, which possess special properties that ensure pores are evenly spaced,” said Javid Rzayev, the Buffalo chemist who led the study with graduate student Justin Bolton.

“What our research team was able to accomplish was to expand the range of available pores to 50 nanometers in diameter, which was previously unattainable by block-copolymer-based methods,” said Rzayev, according to a Buffalo statement.

Researchers who reviewed 26 Australian and international studies, found the presence of bugs like amoebae in about 45 percent of treated samples worldwide.

These bugs can cause the potentially fatal respiratory illness known as community-acquired pneumonia, particularly affecting young children and elderly the most, according to the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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