Project TitleWater Detoxification by a Substrate-Bound Catecholamine Adsorbent
Track Code2012-120
Short Description

Novel adsorbent for removal of heavy metals, radioisotopes and insecticides from water

#environment #remediation


Inspired by the incredible ability of mussels to attach to surfaces, Northwestern University researchers have developed a highly efficient reagent for removal of various toxic molecules from water. Dr. Messersmith and colleagues coated glass beads with polydopamine, the synthetic mimic of mussel adhesive proteins, which gave them the ability to remove toxic metals, radioactive isotopes and insecticide from water. Unlike currently available adsorbents, polydopamine-coated beads can be synthesized in a single step and do not require further functionalization to increase their substrate range. Additionally, this adsorbent can be regenerated either by acid treatment that removes the toxic substrate, or by complete removal of polydopamine and re-coating of the beads. These characteristics make polydopamine-coated beads an attractive solution to bioremediation issues around the world. 

Tagsenvironment: remediation
Posted DateJan 13, 2015 2:56 PM


Phillip Messersmith*

Haeshin Lee


  • Environmental remediation
  • Treatment of radioactive waste on-site (hospitals and nuclear power plants)


  •  High capacity for binding toxic metals
  •  Able to bind organic toxins and radioisotopes
  •  Easy and inexpensive to synthesize
  •  Simple regeneration of polydopamine coated beads
  •  No secondary pollutants as a result of processing


IP Status

US and international patent applications have been filed.

Marketing Contact

Vara Josyula, PhD

Invention Manager 

(p) 847.491.4456