Visualising nanomaterials in environmental samples
Engineered nanomaterials occupy a transitional position between the atomic and microscale where they have novel physico-chemical properties which can be tuned with size shape and structure. These properties can be very different from the bulk state, offering versatility within a wide range of applications, from textiles, paints and personal car products, to targeted drug delivery, land remediation or specialised lasers. Engineered nanomaterials have huge potential application but also unknown environmental fate and behaviour.
To understand the environmental fate and behaviour of nanoparticles, we need to understand how they behave in typical environmental conditions and what properties of the nanomaterials govern their behaviour.
One of the fundamental gaps identified is the need to develop methods that can detect nanomaterials in living systems at the cellular scale, for instance bacterial or fungal communities and plants.
At Lancaster Dr Edward Wild has been developing novel bio-imaging techniques for environmental chemistry, to detect and visualise the real time cellular uptake fate and behaviour of environmental pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by plant and microbial communities. This has been achieved through the combination of two-photon excitation microscopy and autofluorescence.
We have now developed this technique for the in-vivo detection and visualisation of a range of nanomaterials of environmental concern, including titanium dioxide (TiO2) and cerium dioxide (CeO2) nanoparticles and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), which we have visualised simultaneously with wheat roots and a range of PAHs.
The imaging of nanomaterials alongside individual cells or whole tissue structures over scales of hundreds of nanometres to hundreds of micrometers can be achieved. Nanomaterials which have been taken up into cells can be monitored alongside chemicals which have sorbed to the nanomaterials. The non-destructive nature of TPEM means that samples can be visualised and monitored in real time over extended time periods.
A new article in Environmental Science and Technology outlines the potential of this technique for the in-vivo visualisation of certain nanomaterials and their interactions with organic chemicals and highlight its potential uses with both in-vivo and in vitro systems to identify cellular uptake, storage, or degradation, and look at future applications with bacteria, fungi, lung tissues and skin.
Wed 10 June 2009
EDF Energy, one of the UK’s largest electricity producers, is offering placements at its Heysham 2 nuclear power plant to students studying engineering, IT, environmental science or chemistry.
Thu 07 May 2015
A ground-breaking Masters programme from Lancaster University is giving students the opportunity to work on high-impact business projects that develop collaboration between UK and Chinese SMEs.
Wed 29 April 2015
The new Engineering Building has won recognition in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Regional Awards.
Tue 28 April 2015
The Faculty has upheld its strong reputation as a destination for students wishing to pursue studies in science and technology in the latest league tables published by The Complete University Guide for 2016.
Tue 28 April 2015