Gold nanomaterials: Environmental Scourge or Environmental Saviour?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

4:00 pm
Fitzpatrick Center, Schiciano Auditorium Side B


Peter Vikesland

Peter J. Vikesland, Ph.D.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Abstract: Gold nanomaterials are expected to be key nanoscale components of twenty-first century applications ranging from biosensors to catalysts due to their unique optical properties, their chemical stability, and their capacity to exhibit a multiplicity of shapes, particle sizes, and surface chemistries. In this presentation, we will illustrate the potentially deleterious effects that gold nanomaterials may have on the environment and we will also show how gold nanomaterials have significant potential when used for the development of novel sensors to detect environmentally relevant contaminants.

Environmental Scourge? Because of their increased use, gold nanomaterials have potential to become a significant nanomaterial input to environmental systems. To date, studies examining the fate, transport, and toxicity of gold nanomaterials have generally established that these nanomaterials are chemically persistent and exhibit the capacity to bioaccumulate in plants and animals. Although acute toxicity studies indicate such bioaccumulation is not harmful to the organisms, there is growing concern about the effects of chronic exposure to gold nanomaterials. In this portion of our presentation, we will discuss experiments conducted to examine the fate and transport of gold nanomaterials in aquatic environments. A particular focus will be on the examination of how changes in surface functionalization alter the fate of gold nanomaterials.

Environmental Saviour? Gold nanomaterial based assays for the optical detection and quantification of pathogenic organisms and soluble contaminants in biological and environmental matrices have recently elicited significant interest. In this portion of our presentation, we will illustrate the use of surface enhanced Raman spectroscopic (SERS) assays that rely upon gold nanomaterials for the detection of protozoan, bacterial, and viral contaminants in water. "Gold nanomaterials: Environmental scourge or environmental saviour?"