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Environment, Health and Safety Research

NIRT: Metal Ion Complexation by Dendritic Nanoscale Ligands: Fundamental Investigations and Applications to Water Purification

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorMamadou S Diallo
InstitutionHoward University
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsSome
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorEnvironment
Broad Research Categories Characterization
NNI identifierc4-10

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$1,223,000.00
Annual Funding$305,750.00
Funding SourceNSF
Funding Mechanism
Funding Sector
Start Year2005
Anticipated End Year2009


This proposal was received in response to Nanoscale Science and Engineering initiative, NSF 04-043, category NIRT. The fundamental mechanisms by which nanoscale ligands such as dendrimers bind metal ions will be elucidated through a combination of techniques: dendrimer synthesis and characterization, bench scale measurements of proton and metal ion binding, spectroscopic measurements and analysis, and multiscale modeling. In addition to advancing the fundamental science of metal ion chelation by nanoscale ligands, this research could provide insight and guidance to scientists and engineers interested in the use of dendrimers as high capacity chelating agents for industrial separations and templates for the synthesis of metal-bearing nanostructures with electronic, magnetic, optical, and catalytic activity. Two water purification platforms will be emphasized in this project: dendrimer-enhanced filtration systems and dendrimer-based treatment units. The dendrimer enhanced ultrafiltration (DEUF) process combines water-soluble functionalized dendritic polymers with the well-established water purification technology of ultrafiltration. A key objective of this project is to optimize DEUF for the recovery of metal ions from the membrane concentrates of water treatment and desalination plants, thus providing water utilities in the US with more efficient and cost-effective means of treating the problem of brine disposal. Another goal of this project is to explore the use of iron-dendrimer complexes as functional materials for a new generation of membrane-based reactors for water purification. In terms of the broader impacts, this project could provide the water industry with a versatile technology for purifying water contaminated by redox active metal ions such chromium. Similarly, the development of dendrimer-based units that selectively remove copper and lead from water would provide municipalities with novel means of treating contaminants resulting from the dissolution of water delivery pipes. This project will also provide training opportunities in interdisciplinary research for postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students at Howard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology.