Metalmark uses 3-D nanostructured materials to break down and filter out contaminants in the air.


  • Increased air quality
  • Reduced air pollution
  • Reduced contaminants


  • Residential and commercial buildings

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

  • Goal 15: Life on Land

The Challenge

Air pollution is a growing worldwide problem. According to the US EPA, indoor air quality is often two to five times worse than outdoor air, which is where humans spend nearly 90% of their time.

Innovation Details

Inspired by the high surface area created by nanostructures on the surface of butterfly wings, Metalmark has developed 3-D nanostructured materials with similarly high surface area that function as highly effective filters. They work by increasing contact with catalysts capable of breaking down pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ultra-fine particulates, and odor-producing chemicals below 0.3 microns. When used in an air cleaning system, they breaks down pollutants without the formation or release of secondary contaminants.

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Watch how Metalmark was inspired by butterfly wings to reduce air pollution.

Biological Model

Butterfly wings have a very high surface area created by a two-tiered nanoscale texturing. The ridges and bumps are so small that they can interact with light at various wavelengths and with water on a molecular level. Metalmark was inspired to use a similar nano texturing to produce the very different effect of increasing exposure to their air-cleaning .

Ray of Hope Prize

The Ray of Hope Prize® celebrates nature-inspired solutions addressing the world’s biggest environmental and sustainability challenges. Created in honor of Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface, Inc. and a business and sustainability leader, the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize helps startups cross a critical threshold in becoming viable businesses by amplifying their stories and providing them with equity-free funding. The prize shines a light on the innovative, nature-inspired solutions that we need to build a sustainable and resilient world. Metalmark Innovations was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Ray of Hope Prize.