The safest possible future for advancing nanotechnology in a sustainable world can be reached by using green chemistry, says James E. Hutchison, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon.
“Around the world, there is a growing urgency about nanotechnology and its possible health and environmental impacts,” Hutchison said in his talk Sunday during a workshop at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “There is a concern that these issues will hinder commercialization of this industry.”
Scientists need to take a proactive approach to advancing from the current discovery phase in the creation of nanomaterials into a production phase that is efficient and reduces waste, he said. In his talk, Hutchison suggested a green framework for moving the industry forward.
Nanotechnology refers to research on materials that are nanometer in size – or about 1 billionth of a meter and applicable to virtually every technology and medicine. The field of nanoscience, Hutchison said, is still in the discovery phase, in which new materials are being synthesized for testing for very specific physical properties. During such work, there often are unintended properties of material that potentially can be hazardous to the environment or human health but are, for now, an acceptable risk in secured research environments, he said.
Now is the time, Hutchison said, for scientists to “seriously consider the design of materials, processes and applications that minimize hazard and waste, and this will be essential as nanoscience discoveries transition to the products of nanotechnology.”
Hutchison is a leading U.S. innovator in nanofabrication and assembly processes and is a pioneer in the use of green chemistry, which he also teaches to other scientists around the country at workshops. He also is the leader of the Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing Initiative, which is funded by an Air Force Research Laboratory grant to the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
Green chemistry, he argues, can sharply reduce the use of toxic solvents and produce safer products with reduced chances for unintended consequences. It also can provide opportunity for new innovations.
“Green chemistry allows us to think about new space and new parameters,” Hutchison said. “We have the opportunity to develop the technology correctly from the beginning, rather than trying to rework and entrenched technology.”
Hutchison, who is director of the UO’s Material Sciences Institute, is developing diverse libraries of nanoparticles, “in which we systematically bury the structural parameters and use in vivo and in vitro assays to determine the relationship between biological response and structural parameters.”
One such library covers gold nanoparticles for use in basic research. By studying these nanoparticles, he said, researchers can get an idea of what kinds of new electronic, optical and pharmaceutical products eventually may come to market. Hutchison received a patent in 2005 for his synthesis of gold nanoparticles using green chemistry.
Hutchison told the AAAS gathering that he recently published a technique for purifying nanoparticles that uses membranes with nanopores so small that only impurities pass through – a green approach that allows the purification of particles rapidly without using organic solvents. “Before this accomplishment, purifying the material used up 15 or so liters of solvent per gram of particles,” he said. “If solvent is the density of water, that’s 15,000 times more mass used to purify it than we get out of it.”
The nanotechnology industry, Hutchison said, has reached an important moment in time. “There is an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve,” he said. “We should commit ourselves to design these materials and processes to be green from the beginning, and this will provide a lot of freedom from layers of regulation to researchers and companies, allowing for more innovation.”
Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering