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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Water from thin air

by Manny Morone
June 27, 2019


Chemistry in Pictures is accepting entries to its water-themed contest until July 3. Enter today!

A textured surface with water beading up on it and dripping down it.
Credit: Rukmava Chatterjee

Hundreds of millions of people in the world lack access to safe water. Researchers like Rukmava Chatterjee, a PhD student in Sushant Anand’s lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, want to fix this problem by developing devices like this one, which can harvest water out of the air. This device consists of a cooled silicon surface impregnated with a wax layer that freezes a few degrees above 0 °C. When the surface comes in contact with humid air, the water in the air condenses and transfers heat to the wax layer. That small amount of heat melts the top of the wax layer, producing a hydrophobic liquid that lubricates the surface. The water droplets can then drip down the device and get collected.

Submitted by Rukmava Chatterjee

Do science. Take pictures. Win money. Enter our photo contest here.

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Can stripping the air of its moisture quench the world’s thirst?

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Insects and plants inspire water harvesting surface.


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