Atmospheric water recovery in changing environments has received wide attention in environmental science and engineering communities due to rapid population growth and frequent droughts. This study is focused on the design, synthesis, and characterization of biomimetic, bioinspired, and bio-related functional polymers (b3p) to help resolve the water supply issue especially in arid or semi-arid regions. It is aimed to develop unique synthetic methods to access well-defined polymers with the aid of nanomaterials and metal to produce next generation polymer materials for better atmospheric water recovery. The design of such new b3p is bioinspired by some skin materials of biological species such as frogs, beetles, or spiders. Such synthetic efforts are also coupled with fundamental studies of the polymer functions and structures, providing renewed understanding of how molecular structure and processing parameters associated with different nanomaterials impact macroscopic properties. This research was conducted by using a class of cross-linked hydrophilic copolymers known as hydrogels that exhibit a high fluid absorbency, up to 1,000 times to their own weight. Using free radical polymerization to cross-link two different monomers, such as Acrylamide (Am) and Acrylic Acid (Aa) loaded with Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) and coated with gold nanoparticles (Au-Np's), can produce novel thermally-responsive hydrophilic copolymer (e.g. Poly (Am-co-Aa)/Au-Np's/CaCl2) that was placed inside a controlled structure for testing. The new b3p materials can adsorb water vapor in the evening via a swelling process and discharge water vapor in the morning via a deswelling process to harvest the atmospheric water for recovery and reuse. The new b3p materials demonstrated high average swelling percentage of about 3541% when placed in water under a temperature range of [20-30oC] for 5 hours. The hydrogel loaded with 3.3701 grams CaCl2 was placed in the furnace under relative humidity percentage (RH) range of [80-90%] and can absorb up to 27% of the atmospheric water undergoing the same time. The research concludes that the proposed synthetic method contributes to solving such contemporary challenge in green chemistry to some extent. Further studies are needed to deeply investigate the ability of this new hydrogel to load more dissolved solids such as CaCl2.


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Graduation Date





Chang, Ni-bin


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering; Environmental Engineering Sciences









Release Date

December 2020

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)