Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Yi Cui (Image: L.A. Cicero)
As their name suggests, most existing water purifying filters clean the water by physically trapping or filtering out bacteria. Stanford researchers have now developed a new kind of water purifying filter that isn’t really a filter at all. Instead of trapping bacteria, the new filter actually lets them pass right through. But, by the time they emerge from the filter they have been killed by an electrical field running through it. Not only is the new filter more than 80,000 times faster than existing filters, it is also low-cost, has no moving parts and uses very little power, which should make it particularly attractive for use in the developing world where it is needed most.