Spongy Crystals Extract Drinkable Water from Thin Air

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory  have identified highly absorbent materials that can extract drinkable water out of thin air, which could lead to technologies that supply potable water in the driest areas on Earth. The scientists' research leverages metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), a next-generation material that has the largest known surface areas per gram. One gram of the MOF can soak up a football field’s worth of material, if the material were laid in a single layer. The sponge-like crystals can be used to capture, store, and release chemical compounds (like water) and the large surface area offers more space for chemical reactions and adsorption of molecules. The unique structure and topology in the researchers' MOFs lead to a balanced interaction between water sorption and desorption, or high water harvesting capacity.