figureposted on 06.10.2021, 21:59 by Rukmava Chatterjee
While the earth’s atmosphere embodies zillions of gallons of water vapor, ironically, more than half of the world’s population faces daily water scarcity. Over the past few decades, researchers have come up with innovative strategies by tapping into this deluge of ambient moisture resource in an attempt to provide the world with ‘drinkable air’. However, most of these water-from-air devices suffer from the practical challenges of energy efficiency and durability. Motivated by this, we have developed a coating material for mining moisture from air in climates ranging from foggy to humid and that is what the current image (captured as a part of my ongoing doctoral research at UIC) intends to convey. To demonstrate this, I have carried out experiments in a simulated humid environment by cooling a hydrophilic textured surface coated with a naturally-derived waxy material. Stripped from air, water droplets show very low adhesion and effortlessly roll down the sub-cooled coated surface, thereby harvesting water. The locking of the waxy material within the surface features of the underlying solid substrate prevents its out-of-texture depletion by water and provides a ‘cool’ solution to quench the thirsty world.