In the field of science, even the mistakes can sometimes teach us more than success itself. There have been many discoveries that were the direct results of failure while testing some other hypothesis.
Another such amazing discovery was made by researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), who have accidentally created Carbon-Rich Nanorods, which can harvest water directly from air.
This phenomenon is based on a theory that claims that water can spontaneously vaporize when confined in an area with the width of 1.5 nm. The same phenomenon is also observed when tightly surrounded by hydrophobic materials.
While these aren’t new theories by any means, but this is still the first time this phenomenon has been observed in a lab. This technology, if found replicable, could pave the way for low-energy water harvesting systems.
The actual goal of this failed experiment was to fabricate magnetic nanowires. When it failed, the researchers decided to examine the results with a vapor analysis instrument, through which they noticed that the structures were actually losing weight as the humidity increased.
The scientists then switched instruments and decided to use a microscope for further observation, through which they were able to observe water appearing from between the branches of the nanorods. This water then evaporated when exposed to higher humidity.
The researchers are now looking for ways to make this system more efficient in order to see the extent this technology can be pushed to.