This knotty goo could one day play a role in environmental cleanup. Mary Johnson, Phoebe Cahill, and Rachel Fine, all undergraduates in Nick Robertson’s lab at Northland College, synthesized it as part of research into chelating polymers—materials that tightly bind metal ions floating in water. Chelating polymers could one day help capture metal ion pollution from industry or from the water that runs off from waste, especially from used electronics that contain precious elements like gold. The polymer the Johnson, Cahill, and Fine made is normally colorless, but because of the copper ions that the polymer had binded, it turned bright turquoise. Now the team is trying to make the material into a more usable, reproducible film.
Submitted by Mary Johnson
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