Nanomaterial Design Guided by the Principles of Green Chemistry

Saturday, February 18, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 306 (Hynes Convention Center)
James Hutchison, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Nanotechnology offers new materials and applications that promise numerous benefits to society and the environment, yet there is concern about the potential health and environmental impacts of production and use of nanoscale products. Because nanotechnology is still in the “discovery” phase, the design and production of materials have yet to be optimized. For example, although hundreds of studies of nanomaterial hazards have been reported, there is no consensus about the impacts of these materials or design rules that guide the future development of the materials. During the synthesis of functionalized nanoparticles, hundreds to thousands of atoms assemble into the desired structure in, typically, a rapid series of reaction steps. Little is known about the mechanisms of these reactions, resulting in inefficient syntheses that often involve the use of highly reactive hazardous reagents.

Greener nanoscience seeks to advance the beneficial applications of nanomaterials and minimize harm. To this end, we need to understand how nanomaterials interact with the environment and the causes of their biological impacts, and we need to develop new methods of production that address the limitations of discovery scale approaches. Green chemistry is an approach to the design of materials, processes and applications that has the potential to reduce hazards at each stage of the life cycle. I will describe how green chemistry can be applied to nanomaterials, nanosynthesis and nano-enabled products, with an emphasis on the design of next generation textiles with environmental benefits derived from nanomaterials.

Several nanomaterial classes will be described in this presentation. Gold nanoparticles are one of the most thoroughly studied nanomaterials classes with respect to nanomaterial performance, health and environmental impacts and greener design. I will summarize some of the key approaches to increase the net environmental benefit of gold nanoparticle materials through the design of precise nanoparticle structures and efficient production methods. Next, I will describe how these findings have been extended and applied to metal oxide nanocrystals, an important technological class of nanomaterials. Finally, I will describe how green nanoscience can be applied to the use of nanoparticles as surface coatings in nano-enabled fabrics. New insights developed through these studies, including strategies to increase the net societal and/or environmental benefits of nanotechnologies, will be presented.