Nat Commun. 2022 May 30;13(1):3005. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-30560-9.
Removal of organic micropollutants from water through advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) is hampered by the excessive input of energy and/or chemicals as well as the large amounts of residuals resulting from incomplete mineralization. Herein, we report a new water purification paradigm, the direct oxidative transfer process (DOTP), which enables complete, highly efficient decontamination at very low dosage of oxidants. DOTP differs fundamentally from AOPs and adsorption in its pollutant removal behavior and mechanisms. In DOTP, the nanocatalyst can interact with persulfate to activate the pollutants by lowering their reductive potential energy, which triggers a non-decomposing oxidative transfer of pollutants from the bulk solution to the nanocatalyst surface. By leveraging the activation, stabilization, and accumulation functions of the heterogeneous catalyst, the DOTP can occur spontaneously on the nanocatalyst surface to enable complete removal of pollutants. The process is found to occur for diverse pollutants, oxidants, and nanocatalysts, including various low-cost catalysts. Significantly, DOTP requires no external energy input, has low oxidant consumption, produces no residual byproducts, and performs robustly in real environmental matrices. These favorable features render DOTP an extremely promising nanotechnology platform for water purification.