“New Window Screens Filter Pollution from Air”

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The Story

“New Window Screens Filter Pollution from Air”
by Tien Nguyen
Scientific American, April 2017

The Pitch

Hi Robin,

Hope this email finds you well and thanks for your reply on Twitter! I’m writing to pitch a materials chemistry story that I thought might work as a short news piece for SciAm.

A new technique to coat window screens with air-filtering nanofibers may let residents of pollution choked areas throw open their windows wide. Researchers from Stanford and Beijing have demonstrated a ‘blow-spinning’ technique to evenly coat a real window screen in Beijing with polyacrylonitrile nanofibers that blocks tiny, lung-penetrating particulate matter with 90% efficiency. The report also showed photos of the researchers wiping away the pollutant soaked nanofibers with tissue paper.

The same Stanford group led by Yi Cui, who’s also in the news right now for his ‘mini-fire extinguishers in Li-ion batteries,’ made this type of transparent filter two years ago using an electrospinning method that required applying a high voltage to the polymer-spewing needle (covered by the WSJ). Blow-spinning uses air flow instead of voltages and is a step towards efficient and scalable production of these nanofiber filters.

The study came out on Dec. 27 in Nanoletters and to my knowledge hasn’t been covered by any other news outlets. Please let me know if you’re interested and if there’s anything more I can provide.

A bit about me: I’m a science writer based in Brooklyn and have written about chemistry and physics for outlets such as Mentalfloss.com, New Scientist and TED-Ed. I’m looking to take on more freelance work as I gradually transition away from my communications position at Princeton University.

Thanks for your time,


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