Sustainable Nanotechnology

The likely success or failure of the nanotechnology industry depends on the environmental health and safety of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). While efforts toward engineering safer ENMs are sparse, such efforts are considered crucial to the sustainability of the nanotech industry. In our center we developed new approaches that make nanotechnology and its application safer for the user and the environment. A promising approach in this regard is to coat potentially toxic nanomaterials with a biologically inert layer of amorphous SiO2. Core−shell particles exhibit the surface properties of their amorphous SiO2 shell while maintaining specific functional properties of their core material. We also develop a technology that uses atmospheric water to inativate airborne bacteria, one of the safest ways to eliminate bacteria.

Relevant publications:

  1. G. A. Sotiriou, C. Watson, K. M. Murdaugh, T. H. Darrah, G. Pyrgiotakis, A. Elder, J. D. Brain and P. Demokritou. “Engineering Safer-by-Design, Transparent, Silica-coated ZnO Nanorods with Reduced DNA Damage Potential”. Environmental Science: Nano in press, DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00062A (2014). link
  2. P. Demokritou, S. Gass, G. Pyrgiotakis, J. M. Cohen, W. Goldsmith, W. McKinney, D. Frazer, J. Ma, D. Schwegler-Berry, J. Brain and V. Castranova. “An in vivo and in vitro toxicological characterisation of realistic nanoscale CeO2 inhalation exposures”. Nanotoxicology 7, 1338 (2013). link
  3. S. Gass, J. M. Cohen, G. Pyrgiotakis, G. A. Sotiriou, S. E. Pratsinis and P. Demokritou. “Safer Formulation Concept for Flame-Generated Engineered Nanomaterials”. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 1, 843-857 (2013). link