The technology would be a groundbreaking solution to water scarcity.
Technology may now be on the side of the questionably intelligent kid who always asked "why don't we just drink seawater?" in science class.
By using graphene, a thin sheet of single-layer carbon atoms, the team was able to manage the size of the filter's pores and what is capable of passing through a "hexagonal[ly] latticed" material. The "membrane," in this instance, was able to inhibit common salt.
"Realization of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology," Rahul Nair, professor of material physics at the University of Manchester, revealed in a statement.
While such advancements are a promising step in the right direction, BBC News reports that large quantities of single-layer graphene are not only difficult to produce, but also expensive to manufacture. A "cheaper, simpler and more efficient" graphene oxide, on the other hand, may be the better option.
"In terms of scalability and the cost of the material, graphene oxide has a potential advantage over single-layered graphene," said Dr. Nair.
By 2025, the UN predicts that 1.2 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity while nearly two-thirds of the world's population could be living under "stressed water conditions." This could seriously impact survival as we know it, which means research like this is imperative for additional drinking alternatives.
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"This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sleeve sizes," Dr. Nair added.
That's news we can certainly raise our water glasses to.