Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Nano in 2016

Following the success of Peer Review Week in September 2016 (dedicated to reviewer recognition) during which we published a list of our top reviewers, we are delighted to announce that we will continue to recognise the contribution that our reviewers make to the journal by announcing our Outstanding Reviewers each year.

We would like to highlight the Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Nano in 2016, as selected by the editorial team, for their significant contribution to the journal. The reviewers have been chosen based on the number, timeliness and quality of the reports completed over the last 12 months.

We would like to say a big thank you to those individuals listed here as well as to all of the reviewers that have supported the journal. Each Outstanding Reviewer will receive a certificate to give recognition for their significant contribution.

Dr Leanne Gilbertson, University of Pittsburgh
Dr Melanie Kah, University of Vienna
Dr Stacey Louie, University of Houston,
Dr Armand Masion, Cerege – European Centre Research And Teaching In Geosciences De L’envi
Dr Elijah Petersen, NIST
Dr Willie Peijnenburg, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment
Professor Debora Rodrigues, University of Houston
Dr Weiqun Shi, Institute of High Energy Physics
Dr Laura Sigg, Eawag
Dr Jason White, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

We would also like to thank the Environmental Science: Nano board and the environmental science community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

 

If you would like to become a reviewer for our journal, just email us with details of your research interests and an up-to-date CV or résumé.  You can find more details in our author and reviewer resource centre.

 

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Finding a synthetic nanoparticle in a haystack

Written by Colin King for Chemistry World

New analytical approach can detect engineered nanoparticles in the environment

Autumn plowed fields farm house

Source: © Shutterstock

Scientists from Austria and Switzerland have developed a new way to distinguish engineered nanoparticles from naturally occurring nanoscale particles in soil samples. The method works even at concentrations orders of magnitude below natural background levels.

Everyday items, such as cosmetics and textiles, increasingly contain nanoparticles. Concerns regarding nanoparticles’ potential impact on health and the environment mean regulators want to monitor synthetic nanoparticle (for example TiO2, SiO2 and CeO2) levels in the environment. However, samples often contain natural nanoparticles of similar size and composition, often at much higher concentrations. Conventional single-particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (spICP-MS), where the instrument locks onto one isotope, is unable to tell them apart.

 

After working in the area for several years, Frank von der Kammer and Thilo Hofmannfrom the University of Vienna and co-workers have now made a breakthrough based on multi-elemental fingerprinting to explore differences, such as elemental ratio, between engineered and natural nanoparticles. The team tested the concept using an instrument, developed by colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, that enables single particle analysis on a time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TOFMS). The prototype spICP-TOFMS instrument is so fast, it not only measures all of the different elements simultaneously, it does so for every particle. They then developed a machine-learning algorithm to train the analytical system, using well-defined standards of both types of nanoparticles, to increase the speed and precision of the analysis.

 

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Single-particle multi-element fingerprinting (spMEF) using inductively-coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ICP-TOFMS) to identify engineered nanoparticles against the elevated natural background in soils
Antonia Praetorius, Alexander Gundlach-Graham, Eli Goldberg, Willi Fabienke, Jana Navratilova, Andreas Gondikas, Ralf Kaegi, Detlef Günther, Thilo Hofmann and Frank von der Kammer
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2017
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00455E

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Metal-guzzling plants harvested to make nanomaterials

Written by Will Bergius for Chemistry World

Vegetation that cleanses contaminated soil adds to its virtues

 

Brassica juncea

Brassica juncea, a type of mustard plant, absorbs heavy metals through its roots. Source: © iStock

Plants partial to a diet of heavy metals are an ideal raw material for nanomaterials once they have cleaned up contaminated soil. So says a team of Chinese scientists behind a method that turns this vegetation into nanoparticles and nanotubes.

 

Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements with important industrial, agricultural and technological uses. Many human activities such as mining and industry lead to the local build-up of toxic heavy metals in soil and groundwater. Typically toxic and carcinogenic, their release into the environment is a major concern as they can accumulate in the food chain, damaging the health of wildlife and humans alike.

 

Certain plant species known as hyperaccumulators can grow in soil contaminated with heavy metals. They absorb the metals through their roots and concentrate them in their own tissues – a genetic trait designed to make themselves toxic to hungry herbivores. These plants have been used in the past to clean up contaminated areas; a technique called phytoremediation. Once the plants have extracted the metals, they themselves need to be removed, as if left to complete their natural lifecycle they would simply return the metals to the soil. The metal-containing plant waste is often incinerated.

 

Now, Jiao Qu and his team at Northeast Normal University in China have used this biomass as a raw material to make useful nanomaterials.

 

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


A cost-effective method for recycling carbon and metals in plants: synthesizing nanomaterials
Haiyang Liu, Miao Ren, Jiao Qu, Yue Feng, Xiangmeng Song, Qian Zhang, Qiao Cong and Xing Yuan
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2017
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00287K

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What are your colleagues reading in Environmental Science: Nano?

The articles below are some of the most read Environmental Science: Nano articles in 2016. You can view the full collection of our top 10 downloaded articles here.

 

Formation of supported lipid bilayers containing phase-segregated domains and their interaction with gold nanoparticles
Eric S. Melby, Arielle C. Mensch, Samuel E. Lohse, Dehong Hu, Galya Orr, Catherine J. Murphy, Robert J. Hamers and Joel A. Pedersen

 

Recent advances in halloysite nanotube derived composites for water treatment
Liang Yu, Huixian Wang, Yatao Zhang, Bin Zhang and Jindun Liu

 

Environmental processes and toxicity of metallic nanoparticles in aquatic systems as affected by natural organic matter
Zhenyu Wang, Lei Zhang, Jian Zhao and Baoshan Xing

 

Effects of crystallite size on the structure and magnetism of ferrihydrite
Xiaoming Wang, Mengqiang Zhu, Luuk K. Koopal, Wei Li, Wenqian Xu, Fan Liu, Jing Zhang, Qingsong Liu, Xionghan Feng and Donald L. Sparks

 

Graphene–carbon nanotube aerogel as an ultra-light, compressible and recyclable highly efficient absorbent for oil and dyes
Wenchao Wan, Ruiyang Zhang, Wei Li, Hao Liu, Yuanhua Lin, Lina Li and Ying Zhou

 

Keep up-to-date with the latest issues of Environmental Science: Nano by joining our e-alerts.

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New Advisory Board members for Environmental Science: Nano

We are delighted to announce the appointment of the following people to the Environmental Science: Nano Advisory Board.

Melanie Auffan

Melanie Auffan is a CNRS research scientist at the CEREGE (European Geosciences Center) in Aix en Provence. She is member of the iCEINT and CEINT steering committee (consortium for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology). Her research addresses the physico-chemical properties and surface reactivity of nanoparticles in contact with living organisms.


 
Yoon-Seok Chang

Professor Yoon-Seok Chang is based at Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech), South Korea. His research interests include zero valent iron based nanotechnologies for groundwater remediation and the environmental fates and human health effects of toxic substances and nanomaterials.

Philip Demokritou

Dr Demokritou is currently an Associate Professor at Harvard School of Public Health. His research interests are primarily in the areas of nano-aerosol science and technology with emphasis on the elucidation of particle health effects.


Juliane Filser

Juliane Filser is a full professor for general and theoretical ecology and vice director of the interdisciplinary UFT Center for Environmental Research and Sustainable Technology at the University of Bremen, Germany. Juliane’s main research focus is prospective environmental risk assessment, with special attention to ecological interactions in soils. Her group had been one of the first worldwide to point out the need for assessing potential risks of nanoparticles in terrestrial environments.

John Fortner

Professor Fortner’s research is primarily focused on environmental implications and applications of advanced materials. He has extensively studied the environmental fate, reactivity and impacts of engineered carbon nanomaterials, including fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, in aqueous systems.



Robert Hurt

Robert H. Hurt is Professor of Engineering at Brown University, USA. His current research includes the biological response to graphene-family nanomaterials, mechanisms of carbon nanotube uptake and toxicity, nano-silver and nano-copper transformations in the natural environment, safe material design, and the assembly and folding of graphene to make three-dimensional architectures for barrier and encapsulation technologies, and as electrodes and catalyst supports.


Saber Hussain

Saber Hussain is Senior Scientist and Nanotoxicology Group Lead, Molecular Bioeffects Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. His research interests focus on the fundamental interaction of engineered nanomaterials with biological systems, with a special focus on developing nanodevices and evaluating potential toxicity arising from the physicochemical properties of nanoscale structures.

Ralf Kaegi

Dr Ralf Kaegi is based at EAWAG, Switzerland. His research interests are focused on the fate and transport of engineered nanomaterials in the (urban) environment.

 

Anne Kahru

Anne Kahru is head of the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology at the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Tallinn, Estonia. Her current research focuses on the mechanisms of (eco) toxicicity and bioavailability of synthetic nanoparticles by combining molecular techniques, in vitro and ecotoxicological tests and analytical chemistry. She is also a founder and President of the Estonian Society of Toxicology.


Sijin Liu

Dr. Sijin Liu is currently a Professor at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research interests interests include: (1) the mechanisms responsible for environmental pollutant-mediated oncogenic effects; (2) nanosafety and nanoimpact.


Willie Peijnenburg

Willie Peijnenburg is Professor of Environmental Toxicology and Biodiversity at Leiden University, The Netherlands. Currently, his main research interests include assessment of the fate and ecological effects of manusfactured nanomaterials in aquatic media.


Debora Rodrigues

Debora Rodrigues is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Houston in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Her research interests involve investigation of the toxicological effects of carbon-based nanomaterials and polymer nanocomposites to wastewater microbial communities and their potential applications for water treatment and corrosion prevention.


Tara Sabo-Attwood

Tara Sabo-Attwood, PhD is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Global Heath, College of Public Health and Health Professions and Center of Environmental and Human Toxicology at the University of Florida. She has broad expertise in environmental molecular toxicology with an emphasis on water and airborne contaminants.


Navid Saleh

Navid Saleh is an Assistant Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on design and development of novel and human-centered water treatment technologies. The primary goal is to enhance economically challenged communities’ access to potable water via innovative nanomaterial-enabled treatment processes.


Gabriele Schaumann

Gabriele Schaumann is Professor of Environmental and Soil Chemistry at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany. Her main research interest is to gain a process-orientatied understanding on the fate, transformations and effects of new particulate stressors like engineered nanoparticles and plastic particles in the environment and to adapt and further develop analytical techniques for their detection and characterization in environmental samples.


Vera Slaveykova

Dr. Vera I. Slaveykova is a professor of environmental biogeochemistry and ecotoxicology at the University of Geneva and director of the Department F.-A. Forel for environmental and aquatic sciences at the University of Geneva. Her primary research interests are in development of new tools and concepts to study the basic processes governing the behavior of trace elements and nanoparticles, their interactions with various biotic and abiotic constituents of the aquatic systems, that are highly relevant to water quality and environmental risk assessment.

Nathalie Tufenkji

Nathalie Tufenkji is Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University, Canada. Her research interests are in the environmental fate of nanomaterials and the development of nano-enhanced products for environmental and biomedical applications (photo credit Eva Blue).

Maria Elena Vela

Dr. María Elena Vela is a Professor of La Plata National University (Argentina) and researcher at INIFTA, the Research Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physical Chemistry in La Plata city. Her research group works in the synthesis and investigation of functional nanostructured materials and their applications to modify surface properties and to design platforms for ultrasensitive detection of molecules. She also is interested in the study of the interaction of molecules and nanoparticles with model biomembranes.

Sharon Walker

Sharon Walker is Interim Dean of UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, where she also serves as John Babbage Chair in Environmental Engineering and Professor of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. She is a leading expert on water quality, focusing on the fate and transport of bacteria and nanoparticles in water.


Wendel Wohlleben

Wendel Wohlleben is a Senior Scientist for characterization of nanomaterials at BASF, Dept. of Material Physics. He leads research projects on advanced materials development and on the safety of nanomaterials and is a visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health and at the Department of Materials and Interfaces at the Weizmann Institute, Israel.



Read some of the high-impact research authored by our new Advisory Board members in Environmental Science: Nano using the links below.


Modeling nanomaterial fate and uptake in the environment: current knowledge and future trends

M. Baalousha, G. Cornelis, T. A. J. Kuhlbusch, I. Lynch, C. Nickel, W. Peijnenburg and N. W. van den Brink

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, 3, 323-345

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00207A


Effect of humic acid on the kinetics of silver nanoparticle sulfidation

Basilius Thalmann, Andreas Voegelin, Eberhard Morgenroth and Ralf Kaegi

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 203-212

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00209E


Toxicity of 12 metal-based nanoparticles to algae, bacteria and protozoa

Villem Aruoja, Suman Pokhrel, Mariliis Sihtmäe, Monika Mortimer, Lutz Mädler and Anne Kahru

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2015,2, 630-644

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00057B


Toxicity of dimercaptosuccinate-coated and un-functionalized magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles towards aquatic organisms

Ya-Qi Zhang, Ralf Dringen, Charlotte Petters, Wiebke Rastedt, Jan Köser, Juliane Filser and Stefan Stolte

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 754-767

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00222B


Impact of chemical composition of ecotoxicological test media on the stability and aggregation status of silver nanoparticles

George Metreveli, Bianca Frombold, Frank Seitz, Alexandra Grün, Allan Philippe, Ricki R. Rosenfeldt, Mirco Bundschuh, Ralf Schulz, Werner Manz and Gabriele E. Schaumann

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 418-433

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00152H


Interaction between palladium-doped zerovalent iron nanoparticles and biofilm in granular porous media: characterization, transport and viability

Mohan Basnet, Alexander Gershanov, Kevin J. Wilkinson, Subhasis Ghoshal and Nathalie Tufenkji

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 127-137

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00109A


Oral bioavailability and sex specific tissue partitioning of quantum dots in fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas

C. M. Lavelle, J. H. Bisesi, M. A. Hahn, K. J. Kroll, T. Sabo-Attwood and N. D. Denslow

Journal Article Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2015,2, 583-593

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00122F


End-of-life thermal decomposition of nano-enabled polymers: effect of nanofiller loading and polymer matrix on by-products

Dilpreet Singh, Georgios A. Sotiriou, Fang Zhang, Joey Mead, Dhimiter Bello, Wendel Wohlleben and Philip Demokritou

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00252H


Aerosol synthesis of phase-controlled iron–graphene nanohybrids through FeOOH nanorod intermediates

X. S. Lv, Y. Qiu, Z. Y. Wang, G. M. Jiang, Y. T. Chen, X. H. Xu and R. H. Hurt

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 1215-1221

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00178E


Surface engineering superparamagnetic nanoparticles for aqueous applications: design and characterization of tailored organic bilayers

Wenlu Li, Carl H. Hinton, Seung Soo Lee, Jiewei Wu and John D. Fortner

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 85-93

DOI: 10.1039/C5EN00089K


Research strategy to determine when novel nanohybrids pose unique environmental risks

Navid B. Saleh, Nirupam Aich, Jaime Plazas-Tuttle, Jamie R. Lead and Gregory V. Lowry

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2015,2, 11-18

DOI: 10.1039/C4EN00104D

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Major society chemistry publishers jointly commit to integration with ORCID

ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities, ensuring authors gain full credit for their work.

Today, we signed their open letter, along with ACS Publications, committing to unambiguous identification of all authors that publish in our journals.

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The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) today each became signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, reasserting the commitment of both organizations to enhancing the scholarly publishing experience for researchers worldwide who are involved in chemistry and allied fields.

The commitment by these two global chemistry publishers to undertake new workflow integration with technology infrastructure provided by ORCID, a not-for-profit organization that provides unique identifiers for researchers and scholars, will enable both societies to provide unambiguous designation of author names within chemistry and across the broader sciences. This partnership with ORCID will resolve ambiguity in researcher identification caused by name changes, cultural differences in name presentation, and the inconsistent use of name abbreviations that is too often a source of confusion for those who must rely on the published scientific record.

By becoming signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, these two major chemical societies are voicing their intent to collect ORCID iDs for all submitting authors through use of the ORCID API, and to display such identifiers in the articles published in their respective society journals. The integration of such activities within the publishers’ workflows means authors will benefit from automated linkages between their ORCID record and unique identifiers embedded within their published research articles, ensuring their contributions are appropriately recognized and credited.

During the publishing process, ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry will automatically deposit publications to Crossref, which in turn will coordinate with ORCID to link and update the publishing activity populated to authors’ respective ORCID profiles, thus attributing each published work to the correct researcher. Existing holders of an ORCID iD will encounter a one-time prompt to grant permission for the linkage. If authors do not have an ORCID iD, they can easily enroll without navigating away from the publishers’ manuscript submission site. If users wish to revoke integrated ORCID profile access at any time, they can elect to do so through their ACS, Royal Society of Chemistry or ORCID accounts.

Both ACS Publications and the Royal Society of Chemistry understand the importance of attributing accurately the scholarly contributions of research scientists in the context of their other professional activities. “ACS has supported ORCID since the outset of the initiative,” says Sarah Tegen, Ph.D., Vice President of Global Editorial & Author Services at ACS Publications. “We are pleased now to align with the Royal Society of Chemistry in this endeavor, as both societies underscore our willingness not only to encourage and assist our respective authors in establishing their unique ORCID profiles, but also to help tackle the broader challenge of researcher name disambiguation in the scholarly literature. With the integration of author ORCID iDs in our publishing workflows, we will ensure that researchers receive proper credit for their accomplishments.”

Emma Wilson, Ph.D., Director of Publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry adds, “We have been a supporter of ORCID since 2013, recognizing the benefits it brings to researchers; ORCID can and will make a huge difference to our authors’ ability to gain full credit for their work. ORCID will also help researchers meet the requirements of their research funders — for example, a number of funders have already announced that all grant applicants must now include a researcher’s ORCID iD. A unified system that integrates and links research-related information with accurate and timely linkage to the publishing output of authors has the potential to simplify and speed up their grant applications — something we know is important to researchers.”

“The ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry have been long-standing supporters of ORCID,” says Laurel Haak, Ph.D., Executive Director, ORCID. “We are pleased to see ORCID integration into ACS and Royal Society of Chemistry Publications systems. This will be a substantial benefit to researchers in the chemistry community, both in improving search and discovery of research articles, and for attribution and recognition of researchers’ contributions to the discipline.”

About the American Chemical Society and ACS Publications

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

ACS Publications, a division of the American Chemical Society, is a nonprofit scholarly publisher of 50 peer-reviewed journals and a range of eBooks at the interface of chemistry and allied sciences, including physics and biology. ACS Publications journals are among the most-cited, most-trusted and most-read within the scientific literature. Respected for their editorial rigor, ACS journals offer high-quality service to authors and readers, including rapid time to publication, a range of channels for researchers to access ACS Publications’ award-winning web and mobile delivery platforms, and a comprehensive program of open access publishing options for authors and their funders. ACS Publications also publishes Chemical & Engineering News — the Society’s newsmagazine covering science and technology, business and industry, government and policy, education and employment aspects of the chemistry field.

About the Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. With over 50,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, we are the U.K.’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 175 years of history and an international vision for the future. We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences — for the benefit of science and humanity.

About ORCID

ORCID’s vision is a world where all who participate in research, scholarship and innovation are uniquely identified and connected to their contributions across disciplines, borders and time. ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities. It provides open tools that enable transparent and trustworthy connections between researchers, their contributions and affiliations. The organization provides this service to help people find information and to simplify reporting and analysis. ORCID is a not-for-profit organization, sustained by fees from member organizations. Its work is open, transparent and non-proprietary. The organization strives to be a trusted component of research infrastructure with the goal of providing clarity in the breadth of research contributions and the people who make them.

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2016 SNO Emerging Investigator

The SNO Emerging Investigator gives recognition to emerging scientists and engineers working in the area of Sustainable Nanotechnology.  Environmental Science: Nano is pleased to announce the recipient of this year’s honor, Dr. Elijah Petersen, Research Scientist of the Biosystems and Biomaterials Division, Cell Systems Science Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland USA.

Dr. Petersen’s research focuses on the biological interactions of nanomaterials in the environment and the characterization of nanomaterials in complex environmental matrices.  His early research on the interactions of carbon nanomaterials with soil biota was innovative and groundbreaking. Currently he is a leader in the characterization and detection of nanomaterials. Dr. Petersen is the recipient of a 2007 Fulbright Award that enabled him to work in Finland and as National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at NIST. His service and leadership have been outstanding having served on a number of advisory panels including as co-chair of the Ecotoxicology Community of Research for the US-EU Bridging NanoEHS efforts. He is also involved in the construction of ISO methods related to environmental nanotechnology, as well as reviewing OECD protocols for nanotoxicity testing.

Editor-in-Chief Vicki Grassian says that Dr. Petersen was selected because of “his pioneering research contributions and his commitment and leadership to the wider Sustainable Nanotechnology community”. Elijah adds “I am deeply honored to have received the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization Emerging Investigator award. It has been exciting to be involved in nanoEHS research for over a decade while this field has developed. While substantial advances in nanoecotoxicity research have been made during this period, additional work is still needed to develop robust quantitative methods for nanoparticles in complex matrices and to improve the reproducibility and comparability of nanotoxicology measurements among laboratories. I look forward to conducting research on these topics in future years to support the sustainable development of nanotechnology.”

Many congratulations from the Environmental Science: Nano team!

Also of interest: Take a look at Dr Petersen’s recent Environmental Science: Nano paper
Feasibility of using a standardized Caenorhabditis elegans toxicity test to assess nanomaterial toxicity
S. K. Hanna, G. A. Cooksey, S. Dong,  B. C. Nelson, L. Mao, J. T. Elliott and   E. J. Petersen
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, 3, 1080-1089
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00105J

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An economical solution for the removal of selenium contaminants in wastewater

an article by Dan Mercea, PhD student at Imperial College London

Selenium (Se) is a metalloid element found in trace amounts in the earth’s crust and which has found extensive application due to its semiconducting properties. The use in photocopiers, microelectronic circuits and other applications has created a demand which makes selenium a valuable element.

Selenium also shows biological activity with a strong dependence on concentration: it is essential in low doses for mammalian organisms but becomes strongly toxic to humans over a certain intake threshold. Efficient removal of selenium from wastewater being discharged in the environment is imperative and the development of cost-effective procedures to achieve this needs to be addressed.

Under typical environmental conditions Se can be found in a variety of oxidation states (-II, 0, IV, and VI). The former two are insoluble and give rise to little toxicity on account of their low mobility in aqueous phases. The latter two however are found as highly mobile oxyanions which are the principal targets for Se removal.

Finding the right reagent

Ling et al have used an established strategy involving the reduction of Se(IV) to the insoluble Se(0) form, but their choice of nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) as the reagent has led to a superior method of wastewater decontamination being developed. As little as 0.2 g L-1 nZVI can achieve over 99% removal of high levels of Se(IV) within 5 hours. Additionally, on account of the magnetic properties of the nZVI its recovery could be achieved simply with the use of a magnet, leaving pure elemental selenium as the product. The potential for elemental selenium recovery and recycling provides grounding for the method becoming cost-neutral or even profitable.

Furthermore, in depth studies were conducted to elucidate the pathway taken by the decontamination process, with attention focused on the nano- and microstructure of the resulting Se particles and of the nZVI before and after reaction.

The nZVI particles consist of a metallic iron core surrounded by an oxide layer which under aqueous conditions is capable of performing adsorption of Se oxyanions, thus paving the way for their reduction by the metallic core. Two types of Se structures result following the reductive process: almost perfectly spherical nanoparticles and nano-needles, both being attributed to known forms of elemental Se: amorphous and trigonal, respectively.

A complete account of the Se(IV) reduction and Se(0) structure formation mechanisms operating in this process is available in the full article, free to view for a limited time:*

Genesis of pure Se(0) nano- and micro-structures in wastewater with nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI)

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00231E


About the webwriter

Dan Mercea is a PhD student in the Fuchter group at Imperial College London. He is working on developing enantioselective FLP catalysis.

—————-

*Access is free until 9th December 2016 through a registered RSC account – register here

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Miracle material potential water pollutant

Written for Chemistry World by James Sudlow

Researchers demonstrate toxic effects of graphene on aquatic life

By looking at the effects of graphene on water fleas, scientists in China have discovered that it may disrupt aquatic ecosystems, suggesting an unfortunate dark side to the wonder material.

Graphene, the poster child of carbon nanomaterials, has been extensively studied in recent years, and has shown great promise in fields ranging from materials chemistry to electronics and medicine. However, until now its toxicity to aquatic organisms has not been a serious concern.

Wenhong Fan and his team at Beihang University suspended a range of carbon nanomaterials in water and observed their effects on daphnids, also called water fleas, a model organism for water pollution tests. At concentrations above 0.5mg/l graphene significantly impaired their growth and reproduction over a period of 21 days. Fan speculates this is caused by adsorption of graphene onto the daphnids’ surface. Other carbon nanomaterials, including buckminsterfullerene, single walled carbon nanotubes and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, proved more benign.

After 21 days in contaminated water, the daphnids were covered in graphene (far right, GN). Other materials (fullerenes/C60, single-walled carbon nanotubes/SWCNT, multi-walled carbon nanotubes/MWCNT) were barely adsorbed. Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


The mechanism of chronic toxicity to Daphnia magna induced by graphene suspended in a water column

Wenhong Fan, Yingying Liu, Zhizhen Xu, Xiangrui Wang, Xiaomin Li and Shenglian Luo

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00361C, Paper

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The world’s smallest machines as efficient chelation platforms

a blog article by Luiza Cruz, PhD student at Imperial College London

Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa have just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the design and synthesis of molecular machines. Ranging from artificial muscles to micromotors, these nanomachines can perform different tasks and present a myriad of applications. In 1983, Sauvage linked two-ring-shaped molecules by a freer mechanical bond. He was then followed by Stoddart who developed, among other things, a molecule-based computer chip, and more recently Ben Feringa who designed a nanocar. These three remarkable scientists were pioneers in the field and many others now benefit from their contributions to science.

Taking advantage of these findings, Uygun and colleagues developed unique micromotors that offer high-speed metal remediation. Microscale machines have been used for accelerated isolation and degradation of toxins and clean-up of oil-contaminated water, among other uses. The continuous autonomous movement of functionalised nanomachines around a contaminated sample leads to enhanced transport of the remediation agent resulting in greatly accelerated decontamination. However, most of these require external fuel, such as hydrogen peroxide, and expensive catalysts, which then prevents their widespread use. Only recently have new fuel-free Mg-based microparticles been developed. They are highly biocompatible as they use water as their sole fuel. Using these new nanomachines, Uygun describes a Mg Janus-micromotor that is functionalised with meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), which has been recognised as an excellent chelating agent for heavy metals (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Micromotor “on the fly” removing Zn, Cd and Pb.

The micromotors were prepared by half-coating magnesium microparticles with Ti and Au layers and the external gold surface was modified by incubation in DMSA. The removal of its passivation layer will expose the Mg surface allowing an Mg-water redox reaction that generates hydrogen microbubbles leading to an efficient water-propulsion. Moreover, a small number of micromotors can lead to a nearly complete removal of heavy metals within a short period of time and they are not impacted by co-existing metal ions present in complex samples, making these nanomachines an interesting and cost effective option for fast removal of heavy metal pollutants.

By developing these self-propelled water-driven molecular machines, Uygun and colleagues are corroborating the Nobel Prize laureates and spreading the belief of the Swedish Academy of Science: “we are at the dawn of a new industrial revolution of the 21st century and the future will show how molecular machinery can become an integral part of our lives”.

To read the full article for free* click the link below:

D. A. Uygun, B. Jurado-Sánchez, M. Uygun and J. Wang
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 559-566
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00043F, Paper

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About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

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*Access is free until 20/11/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

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