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Nanoscience will change the way we think about the world
Date:3/20/2008

ironmental Sciences and Technology at the University of Notre Dame; along with R. Lee Penn assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Minnesota; Nita Sahai, associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Donald L. Sparks, chair of plant and soil sciences and professor in three departments at the University of Delaware; and Benjamin S. Twining, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of South Carolina.

Minerals, it is generally agreed, are naturally occurring crystalline substances having a characteristic and defined chemical composition. Each mineral expresses a set of specific physical and chemical properties. In addition, nanominerals have one critical difference. They express a range of physical and chemical properties depending on their size and shape.

This difference changes our view of the diversity and complexity of minerals and how they influence Earth systems, Hochella said.

Where nanominerals are

Nanominerals are widely distributed throughout the atmosphere, oceans, surface and ground waters, and soils, and in most living organisms, and even within proteins.

Oceans may be the principal reservoir, since they cover 70 percent of the Earths surface. There, nanominerals can come from processes associated with both living and non-living things, Hochella said. Every mineral goes through a nanophase stage as it begins to grow. If they begin to grow at many sites, but don't continue to grow much after they form, you will end up with a lot of them and they may persist.

In addition to growth and weathering, mineral nanoparticles can be generated from mechanical grinding. One of the most interesting and important places where this happens is along earthquake-generating faults in the Earths crust, reported by several researchers cited in the review.

There is a distinction between clusters of atoms and nanoparticles,
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Contact: Susan Trulove
STrulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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