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”.

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.

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*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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What’s your nano poison?

Written for Chemistry World by Harriet Brewerton

Informatics tool helps researchers visualise complex toxicity datasets

To help predict and avoid designing toxic nanomaterials, researchers have created an informatics tool that can pull out and visualise key information from a large collection of complex nanomaterials research.

Nanomaterials are now common in commercial products such as clothing and cleaning agents, and the amount of research into potential adverse environmental and health effects has increased exponentially. However, there is no comprehensive way to compare, or visualise, this information that could help researchers find correlations between nanomaterial properties and their toxicity. As well as the sheer volume of information, different studies also often consider different experimental conditions and biological material, making it very difficult to compare data directly.

Now, Sandra Karcher at Carnegie Mellon University, US, and her team have designed N4mics, a tool that can visualise nanoparticle toxicity research on zebrafish stored in the Nanomaterial-Biological Interactions Knowledgebase. Karcher says: ‘We developed the tool as a testbed to demonstrate how data that are standardised and shared can be mined to create visual comparisons between nanomaterial types. These visualisations are then used to generate novel hypotheses about how the properties of those materials affect their toxicity potential.’

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Visualization tool for correlating nanomaterial properties and biological responses in zebrafish

Sandra C. Karcher, Bryan J. Harper, Stacey L. Harper, Christine Ogilvie Hendren, Mark R. Wiesner and Gregory V. Lowry

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00273K, Paper

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How do iron oxide nanoparticles react?

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

Iron oxide nanoparticles are not just a laboratory curiosity but a major presence within the whole of the natural world. Ferrihydrite is the predominant iron oxide nanoparticle found under abiotic conditions owing to its very low surface energy. The essential function of iron storage and transport within living organisms is carried out by the protein ferritin, made possible through the incorporation of iron nanoparticles inside the protein’s internal cavity.

The ability of ferritin to template the formation of iron oxide nanoparticles of defined size has been exploited in the production of systems used in targeted drug delivery, magnetic resonance imaging and nano-electronics. The ability of the iron core in ferritin to adsorb phosphate anions has also been put to use in removing this nutrient down to levels which prevent the development of bacteria on water purification membranes.

Understanding nanoparticles

In spite of being recognised for their essential function and with much work dedicated to the development of exciting applications surrounding them, iron oxide nanoparticles have been so far poorly understood at a fundamental level regarding their structure and reactivity models. Their implicitly small size and low symmetry has made imaging difficult using conventional crystallographic techniques. The properties of nanoparticles are generally dependent on their size and any model attempting to quantify the reactivity displayed by the surface must take this into account. The nature of the surface itself is dependent on the chemical properties of the surrounding environment.

Hiemstra and Zhao have conducted both an experimental and a computational study in order to generate a valid reactivity model for the adsorption of phosphate and arsenate by ferrihydrite and by the ferritin core. Ferrihydrite was modelled and essential properties such as surface area, density of surface reactive groups such as O(H), and surface charge were calculated as a function of the particle size.

The experimental study followed the adsorption of phosphate anions onto freshly prepared ferrihydrite and the effect of phosphate concentration on the formation and properties of iron oxide nanoparticles inside ferritin was analysed. Corroboration of theoretical with experimental data allowed for the development of an anion adsorption model with account for surface reactivity and generated new understanding concerning the formation, growth and aggregation of iron oxide nanoparticles under conditions relevant to environmental applications.

The full article is free to access* for a limited time only:

Reactivity of ferrihydrite and ferritin in relation to surface structure, size, and nanoparticle formation studied for phosphate and arsenate

Tjisse Hiemstra and Wei Zhao

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00061D


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.

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*Access is free until 11th October 2016 through a registered RSC account – register here

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Nanomaterial recycling goes for gold

Written by Fernando Gomollon-Bel for Chemistry World

Researchers recover and reuse waste gold nanoparticles

Gold-cyclodextrin complex

The gold–cyclodextrin complex precipitates out of the recycling solution and can easily be filtered. Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

A group of US chemists has developed a straightforward method to recover and recycle gold nanoparticles from nanomaterials waste.1

The market share for gold nanoparticles is expected to increase exponentially in the next years, as they have applications in areas like medical diagnostics, storage devices and solar cells. Gold is expensive, and researchers have been developing ways to recover gold from waste. However, most methods require toxic chemicals such as mercury or cyanide.

Now, a team led by Peter Vikesland at Virginia Tech in the US has adapted a gold recovery method first developed by recent Nobel prize laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart2 to capture gold nanoparticles from waste.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Waste not want not: life cycle implications of gold recovery and recycling from nanowaste

Paramjeet Pati, Sean McGinnis and Peter J. Vikesland

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, 3, 1133-1143

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00181E, Paper

From themed collection Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization

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What makes car tires resistant to mechanical and chemical stress?

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

The answer is nanomaterials. Particularly Carbon Black (CB) and silica nanomaterials which reinforce rubber increasing its durability, road grip and mileage. Other materials, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs), offer better performance and ecological benefits via fuel savings. However, these are more expensive therefore their use is still very limited.

Nanomaterial fragments are generally released into the environment, constituting a rather uncontrollable source of emission of nanocomposites. In some countries where release quantification is already required, these emissions have been estimated between 4,000 and 7,000 tons of microplastic fragments. In spite of this immense environmental impact, little is known regarding the release from nanocomposites under mechanical and chemical stresses combined. Challenging the hypothesis of release being induced by a synergy of stresses, Wohlleben and co-workers bring a new sequence to test degradation pathways (Figure 1) as well as a fresh look at appropriate analytical techniques.

Figure 1. Synergetic degradation pathways by combined mechanical and chemical stresses.

In both cases shown in Figure 1, only chemical degradation or mechanical shear does not induce appreciable release of fragments. This happens only when the second stress is introduced, showing that synergetic degradation occurs on the diagonal of the scheme shown above.
In the first case, polyurethane (PU) with different single fillers (blue pathway in Figure 1) was first aged under standard conditions then put under mechanical stress simulating rain conditions (immersion, shaking or sonicating). Ultraviolet spectroscopy (UV-Vis), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) or field flow fractionation were used to analyse the results. Images from X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) showed that nanofillers remain on the surface after UV and rain weathering, accumulated into dense agglomerates as the polymer matrix was removed by the combined photolysis and hydrolysis.

Moreover, by creating an extended, highly reproducible, very low scatter semi-quantitative method to analyse turbidity of the released fragments, Wohlleben and co-workers were able to affirm that the release was reduced when CNTs were used (Figure 2a). Considering fragments below 150 nm diameter, PU filled with CNTs also showed reduced release (Figure 2b). More importantly, fragments coming from PU with CNTs were mostly organic, showing that the release of nanofiller fragments was suppressed.

Figure 2. a) Turbidity assessment of the released fragments from aged PU surfaces after UV and rain, with increasing mechanical shear: 24 h immersion (light grey), 24 h shaking (dark grey) and 1 h sonicating (black). b) Size-selective analysis (AUC) of fragments in the size range of 5 nm to 150 nm released from aged PU surfaces after UV and rain, with increasing mechanical shear: 24 h immersion (light grey), 24 h shaking (dark grey) and 1 h sonicating (black).

In the second case in Figure 1, natural rubber (NR) nanocomposite were filled with 40% CB and 4% CNT representing an innovative reinforced tire tread and it was compared to NR with 40% CB representing a conventionally reinforced tread and also to neat NB. The test focused on a sequence of mechanical-chemical-mechanical stresses, enabling the simulation of dust aging on dry roads and also the direct run-off into surface waters of the secondary fragments using UV irradiation.

During sanding, there was no noticeable difference between the particle concentration of the three rubber specimen. After aging, the structural differences of the fragments were minimal between wet and dry aging. Moreover, being CB and CNT both relatively more inert to UV degradation, they seem to have accumulated on the surface (less oxidised organic structures were quantified).

Fragments could potentially release smaller fragments and even free nanomaterial. Hence, Wohlleben and colleagues also analysed this scenario and indeed, smaller fragments were formed when a second sanding process was introduced, with no significant differences between NB with both fillers and only CB. However, it clearly showed that dry aging induces stronger secondary fragmentation than submersed aging, these results being in contradiction with the expected combined effect of hydrolysis and photolysis being more aggressive than photolysis only.

In summary, regarding analytical techniques, simple UV-Vis was shown to be the most sensitive technique. Qualitative identification by TEM is essential and analysis of XPS images was also important for a plausibility check.

This study is the first to analyse the combined forces of mechanical fragmentation, environmental aging and again mechanical stresses, showing a stepwise sequence that could continue ad infinitum and be tailored to simulate specific scenarios and provide useful estimates of release rates, enabling more reliable modelling and risk assessments.

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

Release from nanomaterials during their use phase: combined mechanical and chemical stresses applied to simple and multi-filler nanocomposites mimicking wear of nano-reinforced tires
Wendel Wohlleben, Jessica Meyer, Julie Muller, Philipp Müller, Klaus Vilsmeier, Burkard Stahlmecke and Thomas A. J. Kuhlbusch

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016,3, 1036-1051
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00094K, 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 07/11/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

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