Tunable Molybdenum Disulfide-Enabled Fiber Mats for High-Efficiency Removal of Mercury from Water

Camrynn L. Fausey, Ines Zucker*, Danielle E. Lee, Evyatar Shaulsky, Julie B. Zimmerman, Menachem Elimelech

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The application of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) for water decontamination is expanded toward a novel approach for mercury removal using nanofibrous mats coated with MoS2. A bottom-up synthesis method for growing MoS2 on carbon nanofibers was employed to maximize the nanocomposite decontamination potential while minimizing the release of the nanomaterial to treated water. First, a co-polymer of polyacrylonitrile and polystyrene was electrospun as nanofibrous mats and pretreated to form pristine carbon fibers. Next, three solvothermal methods of controlled in situ MoS2 growth of different morphologies were achieved on the surface of the fibers using three different sets of precursors. Finally, these MoS2-enabled fibers were extensively characterized and evaluated for their mercuric removal efficiency. Two mercury removal mechanisms, including reduction-oxidation reactions and physicochemical adsorption, were elucidated. The two nanocomposites with the fastest (0.436 min-1 mg-1) and highest mercury removal (6258.7 mg g-1) were then further optimized through intercalation with poly(vinylpyrrolidone), which increased the MoS2 interlayer distance from 0.68 nm to more than 0.90 nm. The final, optimal fabrication technique (evaluated according to mercuric capacity, kinetics, and nanocomposite stability) demonstrated five times higher adsorption than the second-best method and obtained 70% of the theoretical mercury adsorption capacity of MoS2. Overall, results from this study indicate an alternative, advanced material to increase the efficiency of aqueous mercury removal while also providing the basis for other novel environmental applications such as selective sensing, disinfection, and photocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18446-18456
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number16
StatePublished - 22 Apr 2020


FundersFunder number
NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water TreatmentEEC-1449500
National Science FoundationDGE1122492
Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel


    • MoS
    • adsorption
    • interlayer distance
    • mercury
    • nanofibers
    • redox


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