A nanotube membrane on a silicon chip the size of a quarter may offer a cheaper way to remove salt from water.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have created a membrane made of carbon nanotubes and silicon that may offer, among many possible applications, a less expensive desalination.
The nanotubes, special molecules made of carbon atoms in a unique arrangement, are hollow and more than 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. Billions of these tubes act as the pores in the membrane. The super smooth inside of the nanotubes allow liquids and gases to rapidly flow through, while the tiny pore size can block larger molecules. This previously unobserved phenomenon opens a vast array of possible applications.
Glenn Reynolds writes:
I keep linking to stuff like this, but for those who haven't been coming here since the beginning, here's some background you may have missed. Here's a survey column on nanotechnology, and here's a followup piece on Greenpeace's surprisingly positive take on the technology. Here's a column on international competition, and here's a recent piece from Popular Mechanics. Finally, here's a look at nanotechnology and regulation in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology.Keep this stuff coming, Professor Reynolds.