C60 aerosols are readily oxidized by atmospheric levels of ozone

Recently-graduated CEINT PhD student Andrea Tiwari investigated the reaction between C60 fullerenes and atmospherically realistic levels of ozone (O3). C60 is a unique spherical molecule that is used in a variety of medical, optical, and electronic applications. Along with her collaborators at Virginia Tech, she found that the reaction rate for C60 is lower than that for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exposed to comparable concentrations of O3, and that multiple reaction products form, including C60O, C60O2, and C60O3. It is possible, but not yet proven, that more complex reaction products like oxygen-rich C60 polymers form as a result of the reaction with O3.

This research addresses a knowledge gap pertaining to the role the atmosphere will play in determining the environmental transport, fate, and effects of engineered nanoparticles. While the atmosphere may play a role in nanoparticle transport, its potential to transform nanoparticles has been largely overlooked in the scientific literature. Nanoparticles that have undergone transformative processes in the atmosphere will likely have different ecological behavior and impacts than their pristine cousins. By investigating this reaction, Tiwari and colleagues have demonstrated that the atmosphere will play an important role in determining the environmental behavior and impacts of some engineered nanoparticles.

Oxidation of C60 Aerosols by Atmospherically Relevant Levels of O3
Andrea J. Tiwari, John R. Morris, Eric P. Vejerano, Michael F. Hochella, Jr., and Linsey C. Marr
Environmental Science & Technology 2014 48 (5), 2706-2714