Materials for Selective Capture and Release of Nutrients and Contaminants

Project Details


Many substances such as fertilizers, drugs, industrial chemicals, and trace metals that benefit society in their intended applications can cause difficulties arising from their useful applications or their disposal. For example, phosphorous is essential to food production as a major component in fertilizers. Though it is in global short supply, it is overabundant in wastewater and agricultural runoff. This proposal aimed to develop a reversible biomolecular material that embodies a recognition system as a means to remove phosphate, as a test case.

In this work, we pioneered new biomimetic, molecular-recognition platforms to capture and release phosphate selectively and for multiple cycles of reuse. The main outcomes of this work are (1) we successfully designed two different peptide-based materials that are able to bind phosphate completely and selectively, with promise of becoming a versatile platform in nanoscale recycling of this valuable depleting resource from water sources, and (2) we determined that multi-charge binding, with additional stabilization of the peptide backbone, presents an optimized synthetic design over the naturally occurring protein-extracted binding sequence, opening up further opportunities to study and enhance the binding schemes offered by Nature.

With this work, we are pioneering a new platform to be readily altered to capture other valuable targets, presenting a new class of capture and release materials for recycling resources on the nanoscale.

Effective start/end date1/01/16 → …


  • United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF)


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