Rapid and efficient removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous media using cysteine-modified polymer nanowires


We report the development of a novel, simple, and highly effective polymeric material with nanoscale dimensions for use in removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous media. The nanomaterial was ∼ 200 nm in diameter and several microns long and was fabricated in the form of nanowires via template-directed electrochemical polymerization. The nanowires were covalently modified by cysteine, a nonessential amino acid with very high binding constants for selected toxic heavy metal ions, such as, As3+, Cd2+, Pb2+, and Cu2+ . We demonstrated rapid and efficient removal of As3+, Cd2+, Pb2+, and Cu 2+ ions from natural water samples. The arsenic removal capacity was found to be ∼ 160 mg As3+ per gram of the material, a substantially greater removal capacity than other materials reported to date. The removal capacity of other heavy metals ions was also rapid and effective, their concentrations becoming undetectable in a matter of minutes after treatment with the nanowires. These nanowires have demonstrated potential that could lead to a low cost, novel, and highly effective technique for use in treatment of drinking water and for other environmental remediation purposes.


Biomedical Sciences
Chemistry and Biochemistry

Document Type





Conducting polymers, Heavy metals, Nanowires, Polypyrrole, Remediation, Removal, Treatment

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Applied Polymer Science