Photolytic and photo-catalytic reactions have the potential to passivate water- or air-borne bio-hazardous materials. This invention describes a device to be used as a means for disinfecting water contaminated with organic compounds or biological agents such as bacteria, or viruses. The present invention relates to a device utilizing an inert substrate matrix to support a photoactive catalyst and a means for transmitting high energy light, especially ultraviolet light. The matrix presents a large surface area in direct contact with the contaminated water or air. The matrix transmits or is transparent to light emanating from a source such as a UV lamp. The substrate matrix provides a means for light to interact in close proximity with the photoactive catalysts and organic matter in the water or air. The photoactivated catalyst accelerates the decomposition of biological matter in the water or air, effectively disinfecting the water or air as it comes into contact with the photoactivated agent held on the substrate.
 This invention was made with Government support under government contract no. DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to Sandia Corporation. The Government has certain rights in the invention, including a paid-up license and the right, in limited circumstances, to require the owner of any patent issuing in this invention to license others on reasonable terms.