Nanocarbon materials in water disinfection: state-of-the-art and future directions
Water disinfection practices are critical for supplying safe drinking water. Existing water disinfection methods come with various drawbacks, calling for alternative or complementary solutions. Nanocarbon materials (NCMs) offer unique advantages for water disinfection owing to their high antimicrobial activity, often low environmental/human toxicity, and tunable physicochemical properties. Nevertheless, it is a challenge to assess the research progress made so far due to the structure and property diversity in NCMs as well as their different targeted applications. Because of these, here we provide a broad outline of this emerging field in three parts. First, we introduce the antimicrobial activities of the different types of NCMs, including fullerenes, nanodiamonds, carbon (nano)dots, carbon nanotubes, and graphene-family materials. Next, we discuss the current status in applying these NCMs for different water disinfection problems, especially as hydrogel filters, filtration membranes, recyclable aggregates, and electrochemical devices. We also introduce the use of NCMs in photocatalysts for photocatalytic water disinfection. Lastly, we put forward the key hurdles of the field that hamper the realization of the practical applications and propose possible directions for future investigations to address those. We hope that this minireview will encourage researchers to tackle these challenges and innovate NCM-based water disinfection platforms in the near future.