Water droplet networks could harvest water from fog
Harvesting water out of thin air, might seem like a pipe dream, but the air-stable water droplet networks, being developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers, could be a step in that direction. These water droplet networks could also potentially find use in membrane research and biological sensing applications.
Water droplet networks, also known as droplet interface bilayers, consist of numerous water droplets encased within lipid films. Many research efforts are looking into how well networks of these droplets can function as synthetic tissue, electrical circuits or even batteries. Current processes to create these networks can be quite cumbersome, which has curtailed their use.
"The way they’ve been made since their inception is that two water droplets are formed in an oil bath then brought together while they’re submerged in oil," says Pat Collier, a Research Scientist at ORNL, and the study's lead author. "Otherwise they would just pop like soap bubbles."
To create a simpler fabrication process that didn't involve injecting water droplets into an oil bath, the researchers placed the water droplets on a superhydrophobic surface infused with an oil coating.