Filters Made From Green Algae Nanofibers Can Remove Viruses From Water Interview with:
Albert Mihranyan, PhD Pharm
Professor of Nanotechnology
Wallenberg Academy Fellow
Nanotechnology and Functional Materials
Department of Engineering Sciences
Uppsala University

Mille-feuille paper

Mille Feuille Paper Filter What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Mihranyan: We describe for the first time a paper filter that can remove even the worst-case viruses from water with high efficiency and at industrially relevant rates. The filter is produced from 100% naturally derived cellulose and is formed into paper sheets using very simple processing, which is essentially the same as that for making paper on a large scale. Filter paper is used ubiquitously in every day life from coffee filters to chemistry classrooms but these filters have normally too large pores to retain microbes, let alone viruses.

We show for the first time that we can remove viruses as small as 20 nm! How is it possible? We use cellulose nanofibers from green algae and we possess know-how to control the distribution of the pores inside the paper to be able to remove such small particles. One important aspect, which we discuss in detail in the article, is the special internal layered structure of the filter, which is remarkably similar to French pastry mille-feuille- hence, the name mille-feuille filter. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Mihranyan: Our main message to the reader is that our discovery of the mille-feuille filter may catalyze a paradigm shift to produce more affordable advanced filtering solutions. The latter may change the quality of life for millions of people worldwide and help save lives.

In brief, three key points need to be highlighted:

1. The raw material and the manufacturing are very simple and can enable production of affordable advanced industrial filters;
2. We suggest to use a known water pollutant to purify water (the useful green algae are notorious coastal area pollutants); and
3. Our vision is to develop a paper filter that can remove all kinds of microorganisms, of which viruses are the smallest and most difficult, as easily as brewing coffee. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Mihranyan: We will continue working on our filter to enhance its performance even further. We also would like to scale up its production and develop quality assurance and control protocols. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Mihranyan: We are very motivated to continue our research in this field and look forward to many more discoveries both on the fundamental and applied science levels. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Simon Gustafsson, Pascal Lordat, Tobias Hanrieder, Marcel Asper, Oliver Schaefer, Albert Mihranyan. Mille-feuille paper: a novel type of filter architecture for advanced virus separation applications. Mater. Horiz., 2016; DOI: 10.1039/C6MH00090H

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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