Investigation of Surface Reactivity & Environmental Transformation of Nanoparticles
Mentor: Dr. Silvana Andreescu
Department: Chemistry & Biomolecular Science
In this project funded by the Environmental Chemical Sciences Program, Professor E. Silvana Andreescu of Clarkson University is studying the chemical processes that occur at the surface of individual nanoparticles upon exposure to environmental contaminants using a combined spectroscopic and electrochemical approach. To meet this challenge, a new method based on measurements of the collision events of nanoparticles with a microelectrode will be developed. The integrated spectroscopic / electrochemical approach will serve as a model to assess stability, surface properties and reactivity of nanoparticles and predict their transformation in the environment. The project focuses on the development of a new electrochemical collision method for the investigation of the surface properties, size-dependent effects and redox reactivity of model metal and metal oxide nanoparticles. Changes in oxidation state, surface adsorption/desorption and reaction kinetics will be evaluated using collision electrochemistry and the results will be correlated with a suite of spectroscopic and surface characterization methods. These experiments will determine how environmental constituents and solution chemistry affect the surface properties and reactivity of individual nanoparticles, and establish the mechanism of this interaction. The development of a new methodology for studying nanoparticles by collision electrochemistry has potential for broad application as a complementary and inexpensive tool for particle characterization and environmental screening purposes. These studies will provide new data for understanding the relationship between nanoparticle characteristics and their behavior in environmental conditions. Since nanoparticles are largely used in consumer products, increasing knowledge of their environmental transformations will have significant economic and societal implications. The project will provide research and training for graduate and undergraduate students, especially women and minorities, who have demonstrated significant promise for career development and leadership. The project will also provide undergraduate research experience to underrepresented minority students from three 4-year public colleges that usually do not have access to research to broaden their education.