According to the World Health Organization, more than two billion people live in water-stressed countries and use drinking water sources that are contaminated and unsafe. The world is facing the serious challenge of freshwater scarcity. As the global population continues to grow at an alarming rate, there is a pressing need to develop innovative, sustainable solutions to meet the rising demand for clean water.

To address this issue, Professor Michael Tam has designed novel systems to capture water vapour from the air. To develop sustainable technologies, Tam works with net zero-carbon materials, such as natural and plant-based materials. Tam is developing technologies that capture and repel water droplets by harnessing the power of interfacial science and nanotechnology.

Tam, a University Research Chair, has created technologies inspired by spiders, beetles, and mushrooms.

“Based on those inspirations, we built the technology using natural materials that can capture water,” says Tam, Director of the Laboratory for Functional Colloids & Sustainable Nanomaterials. “And we found that when we capture one squared metre of the surface, we get five litres of water per hour."

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