Utilizing power from the sun is well known to be one of the keys to sustainable development but generating electrons from solar cells (photovoltaics) is not the only way to do it! Using solar energy to purify, or desalinate, seawater offers a sustainable alternative to energy-intensive reverse osmosis systems that are in large-scale use today. In theory, a photothermal membrane can use solar heat to power the purification of seawater, or other brine sources, by distillation. However, the solid minerals that are left behind tend to stop the membrane working after a short time and long-term, stable operation is a problem. One answer may lie in a recent paper published in the open access journal EcoMat, which aims to unite interdisciplinary research on functional materials for green energy and environments.<