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Artificial spider silk could help us harvest drinking water from air

Sep 09, 2023

Helical bumps on artificial fibres can carry 2000 times more water than the volume of the bumps themselves, which could help people harvest drinking water from the air

By Alex Wilkins

2 August 2023

Artificial fibres that can collect water from the air, much like how spider silk gathers dew, could be used for large-scale water collection from fog.

In places where the availability of drinking water can be low, harvesting water from air tends to be an energy-intensive process. Condensation, a common method, usually requires a surface that is kept cooler than the air temperature.

Now, Yongmei Zheng at Beihang University in China and her colleagues have designed artificial microfibre threads covered in spiral-shaped bumps that can passively attract huge droplets of water to condense on them.

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