Discover our research

Thrust 2 aims to drastically reduce – and possibly eliminate – electric energy consumption for removing pollutants and salt from water.

TOC Art [Wide] jaehong T2 image website

This effort will exploit and advance recent developments in nanophotonics and thin film nanocomposite materials to improve the energy efficiency of desalination. Our research takes advantage of low-cost energy sources. We create materials that capture solar and waste heat. Those materials and our engineered systems convert that energy into useful pollutant and salt removal methods. 

Current Research Projects

Solar Water Disinfection Window: From Light-Harvesting Material Development to Field Implementation

Design, build and deploy a point-of-use water disinfection module with light capturing nanomaterials for resource limited rural communities.

Sustainable, Earth-abundant Solar Photothermal Nanoparticles for Plasmon-Enhanced Water Treatment

Make and test ultra-small aluminum crystals that are protected from long-term decay by an outer shell of silica. Test the ability of these crystals to capture light and convert to heat that disinfects water. Incorporate these materials into the point of use device being developed in project 2.8.

Pervaporation Associate Team 

Previous Projects

Design and synthesis of nanoparticle-based media for optimized solar-thermal processes

Nanophotonic-enhanced direct solar membrane distillation (NESMD)

Mixed matrix NF/RO membranes

Enhancing NESMD w/ optical and photothermal focusing

Research highlights

Resonant energy transfer enhances solar thermal desalination
Alabastri, A. Dongare, P. D. Neumann, O. Metz, J. Adebiyi, I., Nordlander, P. Halas, N. J.

Cooperative Pollutant Adsorption and Persulfate-Driven Oxidation on Hierarchically Ordered Porous Carbon
Chu, C. Yang, J. Huang, D. Li, J. Wang, A., Alvarez, P. J. J. Kim, J. H.

Electronic Tuning of Metal Nanoparticles for Highly Efficient Photocatalytic Hydrogen Peroxide Production
Chu, C. Huang, D. Zhu, Q. Stavitski, E. Spies, J. A., Pan, Z. Mao, J. Xin, H. L. Schmuttenmaer, C. A. Hu, S., Kim, J.-H.

Student Spotlight

Costs of water treatment, both in the United States [link:] and abroad, are increasing. Harvesting and directly converting light from the sun into disinfection power drives operating costs down and allows off grid operation. Thrust 2 engineers and tests nanomaterials that allow for this capture and conversion to happen efficiently. Thrust 2 helps NEWT move toward its goal of providing off-grid water treatment.

thrust 2