Their study, the first to report on how different pH levels may affect the safety of QDs, appears in the Jan.15 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
In the new study, Pedro Alvarez, Shaily Mahendra, and colleagues note that QDs are semiconductor nanocrystals composed of a metal core surrounded by a shell composed of zinc or cadmium sulfide. Scientists are increasingly concerned that these submicroscopic dots, about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, could decompose during normal use or after disposal. That decomposition could release toxic metals into the environment, posing a health risk to humans and animals.
To explore this concern, the scientists exposed two common types of bacteria that serve as models of cell toxicity and indicators of environmental health to QDs under different conditions of acidity and alkalinity. At near neutral pH levels, bacteria exposed to QDs experienced decreased rates of growth, but did not die. However, at moderately acidic or alkaline conditions, many of the QD-exposed bacteria died as QDs shells decomposed, releasing their content of toxic metals. However, proteins and natural organic matter may be able to mitigate toxicity by complexing metal ions or coating particles. The study cautions, “the release of toxic inorganic constituents during their weathering under acidic or alkaline conditions in the human body or the environment may cause unintended harm that might be difficult to predict with short-term toxicity tests.”
Michael Woods | Newswise Science News
Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University
From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
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Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
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Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.
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