Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have designed a new type of material to precisely pull copper ions from water. The prototype material, called ZIOS (zinc imidazole salicylaldoxmine) targets and traps the copper ions. “It’s kind of like a crystal sponge,” says Jeff Urban, the director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility in the Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry. The common practice in cleaning wastewater today pulls everything out (contaminants, nutrients, and minerals included). This new prototype demonstrates how water treatment could be more affordable and how wastewater could become a path to sustainably source important metals.