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 nanostructures on the surface of butterfly wings, Metalmark has developed 3-D nanostructured materials capable of catalytically breaking down volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ultra-fine particulates, and odor-producing chemicals below 0.3 microns. When used in an air cleaning system, it 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

Butterflies have long mesmerized us with their iridescent colors, created by the reflection of light off their wings. Although the wings are made of a single material building block, variations in the nano- and micro- scale structure of the wings result in multiple functions beyond color, including aerodynamics, strength, lightness, and water repellency.

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.