Research by University of Brighton scientists on the use of silver nanoparticles to decontaminate mercury-contaminated water has been highlighted by 'Science'.
The research led by Dr Kseniia Katok (pictures) in the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Group at Brighton was highlighted in the Editor's Choice section in Science magazine on 17 February. It has been hailed as a paradigm shift in scientists' understanding of chemistry since it is generally accepted that when silver is reduced to atom size using nanotechnology, it can only absorb a certain amount of mercury. However, Dr Katok, a European Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow, was able to reduce the nanoparticles of silver to below 35 nano-metres in diameter and found that this allowed almost twice as much mercury to be absorbed.
The breakthrough opens the way for more effective, cheaper ways of cleaning mercury -contaminated water. Existing clean-up methods for mercury-polluted water either have either low mercury removal capabilities, leave a large chemical waste footprint or are not energy efficient. Professor Andy Cundy, the University's Professor of Applied Geochemistry and Dr Katok's lead supervisor, said: "Dr Katok's findings enable a major shift towards the use of nanomaterials for waste water remediation and metal removal and recycling."
Dr Ray Whitby, head of the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Group, said: "We are delighted to win recognition in such a prestigious international publication. It shows the groundbreaking nature of the work that is being conducted here at the University of Brighton."