Safer-by-design nanostructured materials

Research Area From website: Sustainable Nanotechnology – Safer by Design Nanomaterials

Funding Agencies: NSF


The likely success or failure of nanotechnology industry depends on the environmental health and safety of engineered nanomaterials. While efforts toward engineering safer engineered nanomaterials are sparse, they are considered crucial to the sustainability of the nanotech industry. The main concept here is the safer formulation of flame-generated engineered nanomaterials through rational design and engineering based on the in-flight, one-step encapsulation of potentially toxic nanomaterials by a nanothin inert amorphous SiO2 layer. The SiO2-coating process is performed using an industry-relevant flame spray pyrolysis reactor in which the freshly-generated nanostructured materials are coated by the swirl injection of Si-precursor vapor. The main advantage of this approach is for the core-shell nanoparticles to maintain specific desirable properties of their core material (e.g. optical, plasmonic, dielectric, luminescent, magnetic) but exhibit surface properties of their inert SiO2 shell. The biological outcomes upon the interaction of the uncoated and SiO2-coated engineered nanomaterials is monitored by a number of in vitro and in vivo assays. The main hypothesis is that the presence of the SiO2 coating will change the surface properties of the core nanoparticles. This will also influence the biointeractions of the engineered nanomaterials making them biocompatible. The understanding that will be obtained can be used in order to contribute in developing and validating “green” and safer nanomaterial that the industry can scale up and use for a wide range of applications.