Filters that use nanoparticles to prevent slime build-up
at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new way of making membranes that allow them to add in a host of new abilities via functional nanoparticles that adhere to the surface of the mesh. They tested this method by adding antifouling particle that could prevent biofilm build-up. The current standard for making filters is relatively straightforward but doesn’t allow for much in the way of giving them additional functionality. In biofouling, the biological material they are supposed to filter out -- including bacteria and viruses-- gets stuck on the surface of the mesh, blocking the pores with a slimy residue. Such biofilms reduce the flow and can potentially contaminate whatever liquid makes it through to the other side of the filter.
The researchers’ new membrane-making method relies on a specialized type of liquid mixture known as a “bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gel,” or “bijel.” The method allows them to add in a host of new abilities via functional nanoparticles that adhere to the surface of the mesh. The study was published in Nature Communications.
The researchers imbued their filters with silica