Solar Water Purification and Decontamination Hybrid Hydrogel

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Solar Water Purification and Decontamination Hybrid Hydrogel


Princeton Docket # 20-3697-1


The laboratory of Prof. Rodney Priestley at Princeton University has developed a novel 3D solar absorber gel that can take full utilization of renewable solar energy for high-efficiency water purification and production. This is the first reported material that integrates all the desirable optical, thermal, and wetting properties to solve the long-standing clean water shortage crisis. The promising sunlight driven gel can significantly improve clean water production efficiency, inspiring  new strategies for superior water treatment materials.


This 3D sunlight driven purifier is easily prepared at room temperature by immersing supporting gel into dopamine solution and sodium alginate solution, respectively. Therefore, this fabrication process is facile and convenient without any complicated and advanced equipment. Moreover, all the ingredients are low-cost, non-toxic, and green materials that dissolve in an aqueous solution without any expensive solvent, and there is no secondary pollution generated during the process. Besides that, the 3D porous gel exhibits fast production of high-quality clean water under 1 sun irradiation, which favors the practical applications for water harvesting from diverse wastewater.



•       Facile, green, time-saving, and cost-efficient fabrication process

•       High purification performance against natural particulates, such as dust, sand, bacteria in fresh water

•       Water collection rate of the 3D solar absorber gel is much higher than any other conventional sunlight evaporation devices reported to date



A publication is in preparation.


Intellectual Property & Development Status

A proof-of-concept prototype has been built and efficacy has been demonstrated in water contaminated with oils, bacteria and an organic dye; the 3D gel has also been shown to be reusable.

Patent protection is pending. A US Provisional Patent Application Serial Number 63/015,855 entitled “Solar Water Purification and Decontamination Hybrid Hydrogel” has been filed on April 27, 2020.

Princeton is seeking industry collaborators and/or investors for the further development and commercialization of this technology


The Faculty Inventor


Rodney D. Priestley is a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Vice Dean for Innovation at Princeton. He is also the associate director of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials. He is the faculty co-director of the newly created Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows Program, aimed at enhancing diversity and addressing underrepresentation across campus, and is the faculty adviser to the National Society of Black Engineers student chapter. He is also affiliated with the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials.


Priestley joined Princeton as an assistant professor in 2009, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2008 from Northwestern University and his B.S. in chemical engineering from Texas Tech University in 2003.

He leads the Priestley Polymer Lab -




Tony Williams

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-3769 •



Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Tony Williams
Princeton University
Rodney Priestley
Xiaohui Xu