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Qilin's Research Group
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rice University


Nanotechnology for water disinfection and antimicrobial surfaces


1. Novel Nano-Photocatalysts for Virus Inactivation in Drinking Water

  • Viruses commonly occur in drinking water sources and contribute to a significant fraction of waterborne diseases. Some viruses have high resistance to existing disinfection methods such as chlorination and UV disinfection. In addition, many disinfectants, e.g., free chlorine, monochloramine, and ozone, can form carcinogenic disinfection byproducts. Our research investigates photocatalytic oxidation as an alternative disinfection method for pathogenic viruses. Novel nano-photocatalysts are developed by modifying TiO2, a semiconductor photocatalysts that are widely studied for water treatment applications, using silver and silica nanoparticles. Using a model virus, bacteriophage MS2, our composite photocatalysts are found to inactivate viruses over five times faster than the base TiO2 material. We are currently evaluating the inactivation kinetics of a resistant human pathogenic virus, adenovirus, and investigating its inactivation mechanisms.

    ms2 inact

    MS2 inactivation by nAg modified P25 TiO2 (a) and anatase TiO2 (b). Silver can increase the inactivation rate by 5 times as compared to unmodified TiO2.
    SiO2 can also enhance virus inactivation by TiO2:

  • Linkes:


  • Collaborators: Dr. Vicki Colvin, Dr. Andrew Barron, Rice University
  • Funding source: NSF Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, US Navy

2. Assessing the short and long term efficacy of antimicrobial surface coatings

  • Microbial control on surfaces is critical in multiple settings (e.g. hospitals, food processing plants, restrooms, etc.). There are several surface coatings on the market advertised as antimicrobial, however the tests used to evaluate these surfaces only evaluate short term efficacy, and do not provide an adequate indication of the long term antimicrobial activity. We are in a a partnership with the DuPont Industrial CoatingSolutions company to develop a long term efficacy test for evaluating antimicrobial surfaces. The ultimate goal is to develop an indicator capable of identifying when the useful lifetime of the material has been reached.
  • Funding source: DuPont



--Contact Us

-----Rice University
-----6100 Main ST MS-519
-----213 Keck Hall
-----Houston TX 77005

-----Email: Qilin.li@rice.edu
-----Phone: (713) 348-2046
-----Office: Keck Hall 225




-- Qilin's Research Group, 6100 Main ST MS-519, Houston, TX 77005 --