Besides IBN's focus on applying this protocol to the nanocrystalline synthesis of metals, semiconductors and their hybrids, the extraction of metals dissolved in water would be significant for applications in environmental remediation, e.g. extraction of heavy metals from water and soil.
"Water pollution from heavy metals is a major long-term economic and healthcare problem that has global implications. Once contaminated, it is often difficult and expensive to purify the affected environment and extract the pollutants. Besides highly toxic metals such as mercury and lead, other valuable metals, including gold, silver, iridium and osmium, are also soluble in water, and may be extracted by our protocol," remarked IBN Research Scientist Jun Yang, Ph.D.
"At this point, it is possible to extract the metals very effectively using an organic solvent such as toluene to remove the metal residue. Organic solvents are less dense than ethanol or water and float on top of the aqueous solution. When we agitate the mixture, the metals dissolve in the toluene and are completely removed from the ethanol and water. Our process allows us to extract metals from water without leaching out the mineral ions that are normally present in water or soil," said Dr. Yang.
"We have demonstrated a general protocol for transferring metal ions from water to an organic phase. This technique may be applied to transfer a wide range of transition metal ions from water. We can greatly facilitate and reduce the cost of producing a variety of metallic, alloy, semiconductor and semiconductor-metal hybrid nanoparticles through our simple and flexible approach to engineer advanced materials with novel structures and multiple functionalities" said Jackie Y. Ying, Ph.D., IBN Executive Director and principal investigator of this research.
|Contact: Cathy Yarbrough|
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore