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Duke to lead new NSF, EPA center to study the environmental implications of nanotechnology
Date:9/17/2008

or Kimberly Jones from Howard University each specialize in nanoparticle movement and transformations in the environment. Mike Hochella, a nanogeochemist from Virginia Tech, and Rich Di Giulio, an ecotoxicologist from Duke are also co-principal investigators. Rounding out the team are CEINT collaborators Gordon Brown, a geochemist from Stanford University and Paul Bertsch, a soil scientist from the University of Kentucky.

One activity for the research team over the coming year is to develop 32 tightly controlled and highly instrumented ecosystems in the Duke Forest in Durham, N.C. Known as mesocosms, these living laboratories provide areas where researchers can add nanoparticles and then study the resulting interactions and effects on plants, fish, bacteria and other elements.

"This mesocosm facility will be the nano-environment equivalent of the space station a unique resource with tremendous potential that will be tapped by researchers throughout the center and beyond," said Wiesner.

The teams' plan to study manufactured, naturally occurring, and incidental nanoparticles recognizes that if data on nanoparticle risk are to be meaningfully interpreted, it is critical to quantify the relative exposures presented by these various sources of nanomaterials. Given that the potential diversity of nanomaterials is staggering, with countless variations in size, shape, surface chemistry, chemical composition, coatings and composites, the team's task is daunting, Wiesner said.

"Such research will address the influence of nanomaterials on processes ranging in scale from the subcellular to whole ecosystems," Wiesner continued. "We hope to explain factors controlling nanomaterial exposure, persistence, bioavailability, toxicity, metabolism, transfer through the food chain, and impacts on population evolution and critical ecosystem functions."

"CEINT will provide an unprecedented opportunity to develop a new technology, in this cas
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Contact: Deborah Hill
dahill@duke.edu
919-660-8403
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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