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NSF funds multi-university center to study environmental implications of nanotechnology
Date:9/17/2008

Blacksburg, Va. Researchers from geosciences and civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech are part of a consortium of four principal universities and five other schools awarded a multi-million dollar grant to study nanotechnology and the environment. This is one of only two such consortiums funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to form a national Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN). Total funding for the project is $14 million over five years with an opportunity to renew for another five.

Nanoparticles are as much as a million times smaller than the head of a pin, and have unusual properties compared with larger objects made from the same material. These unusual properties make nanomaterials attractive for use in everything from computer hard-drives to sunscreens, cosmetics and medical technologies. However, the environmental implications of these materials are virtually unknown.

Headquartered at Duke University, the CEIN will integrate the expertise of researchers in fields such as ecology, cell and molecular biology, geochemistry, environmental engineering, nanochemistry, and social science. In addition to Virginia Tech and Duke, the other schools involved in the project are Carnegie Mellon University and Howard University, with the University of Kentucky and Stanford University playing smaller but also important roles. The other CEIN named in the grant is headquartered at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and includes UC Santa Barbara. The centers are charged with studying the behavior of nanomaterials and helping to assess existing and future concerns surrounding their environmental implications.

"This is a grand challenge," said Michael Hochella, University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at Virginia Tech, one of five lead investigators in the consortium. "The potential diversity of nanomaterials is staggering, with countless variations in size,
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Contact: Catherine Doss
cdoss@vt.edu
540-231-5035
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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