Uptake of Environmental Nanoparticles
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Angela Violi, Ph.D.
Department of Mechanical, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
University of Michigan
Worldwide epidemiological studies show a consistent increase in cardiac and respiratory morbidity and mortality from exposure to particulate matter (PM). Without question, the process of combustion is the dominant pathway through which mankind continuously injects PM into the atmosphere at the present time and it is therefore important to understand the characteristics of the toxic particles and gain insight into how these characteristics are related to adverse health effects. In addition to the environmental exposure to combustion‐generated nanoparticles, another exposure route is to the intentional use of nanoparticles for engineering purposes. Potential occupational exposure to manufactured nanoparticles will increase dramatically in the future due to the ability of nanomaterial to improve the quality and performance of many consumer products the public employs daily, as well as the development of medical therapies and tests which will use manufactured nanoparticles. Only recently have critical questions regarding the potential human health and environmental impact of man‐made nanoparticles or nanomaterials been raised. This talk reports on our latest studies on the interactions of carbon‐based nanoparticles with biomolecular structures that are representative of those at the cellular scale (lipid bilayer membrane) using multiscale computer simulations. Molecular Dynamics simulations are used to provide molecular‐level insight into the relationship between nanoparticle morphology, composition, and mechanisms of direct interactions with bilayers. Local structural changes due to the nanoparticle‐bilayer interactions at the atomistic level are explored. The focus is on both the actual carbonaceous nanoparticles, produced in combustion processes, and on synthetic carbon‐based nanoparticles, to help better understand the basic physical interactions at the nano‐bio interface. The figure on the right shows the structure of a carbonaceous nanoparticle produced in high temperature regimes using multiscale simulations.