Nanotech Cotton Kills Pathogens Expensive Water Filters Can’t

By dipping plain cotton fabric into a high-tech broth of silver nanowire and carbon nanotubes, Standford scientists have created a water filter capable of killing deadly pathogens other filters leave behind.

Instead of attempting to trap the bacteria and pathogens like other filtration systems, this device forces them through an electrical field that runs through the highly conductive “nano-coated” cotton.

As the bacterial passes through the filter, it is killed instantly, rendering the polluted water harmless to human drinkers.

In lab tests, over 98 percent of Escherichia coli bacteria that were exposed to 20 volts of electricity in the filter for several seconds were killed. Multiple layers of fabric were used to make the filter 2.5 inches thick (

Reserachers involved in the study claim that this could be a new high-speed, low-cost water treatment method for remote areas where people don’t have access to chemical treatments such as chlorine.

Traditional filters use fabrics or sand with very small pore spaces to trap waterborne bacteria, but this results in a very restricted flow rate, meaning it takes a long time to filter a large amount of water.

Because the nano-cotton doesn’t need to trap the bacteria, it has much larger pores which allow a flow rate that is 80,000 times faster than traditional filters.

Waterborne diseases are on the rise, especially in countries without dependable infrastructure, or the ability to deal with natural disasters that can contaminate water supplies, such as the recent flooding in Pakistan.

The nano-filtration device can deliver almost 100% bacteria removal with very low cost materials, and is an easy-to-distribute solution for villages and cities with at-risk water supplies.

Like this story? Connect with Beth on Twitter or StumbleUpon!

Image Credit - Yi Cui/Stanford


Kate P.
Kate Pilletteri6 years ago

This is interesting. We have a water treatment that uses UV which is a long term solution(8000 hours/250,000 gallons). We can treat water for $.004/gallon.I wonder what the cost of this will be and how long it will really last. Solutions often are low cost up front, but then require maintenance or replacement of consumables, rendering it much more expensive.

James Fazerider
James F.6 years ago

It will be interesting to see how long the filter retains its properties when used in the field. It may need to be used in conjunction with a pre-treatment to remove contaminants that would either coat the silver or dissolve it.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

this is good. We have been needing water filters that are bacteria safe

Mervi R.
Mervi R.6 years ago

Wow, interesting!

Philippa P.
Philippa P.6 years ago

I'm not sure that I would drink it.

julieanne bowes
julieanne bowes6 years ago

scary nanobot borne new problems there!

Lynn Marie M.
Lynn Marie M.6 years ago

Thanks. Very interesting.

Jo Balltes
josie batlles6 years ago

thank you very much for sharing x

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog6 years ago

How interesting...but I would love to see some long-term studies on using nanotechnology on edible food and drink before I would actually ingest any water treated with it.

SusanQ S.
Susan S.6 years ago

Just wonder if it will filter out all the crap our government(USA) dumps in our water "to make it safe" for our consumption.
IF we all knew just what the gov. dumps in and what's already there, we would never let water touch our lips again.