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2015 Spring Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Community... has ended
Wednesday, April 22 • 2:30pm - 4:30pm
Understanding Nanoparticle Toxicity; a Public Health Concern

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Nanotechnology is a growing field that represents a large industrial market with many industrial and private uses. Nanoparticles are known to cause toxicity in biological environments, with reactivity increased proportionally to surface area. Early evidence would suggest that, no matter the composition of the nanoparticle chemically, once the nano-scale is reached it is likely to be toxic. This evidence seems to contradict current nanoparticle theory which suggests a chemical mechanism for nanotoxicity. The focus of this research will be to develop an alternative explanation. It is likely that toxic effects are caused by the presence of trapped electrons in defects on the nanoparticle surface. To test this theory, carbon nanotubes with varying amounts of defects are to be procured and analyzed using Raman spectroscopy and Electron Spin Resonance. The presence of defects should correlate with the amount of electrons trapped in a nanoparticle surface. Samples will also be tested using Thermally Induced Luminescence. If the nanoparticles are seen to emit photons at biological temperatures, it can be safely assumed that the samples are reactive in a biological system. The toxicity of these samples will then be tested on live specimens in collaboration with other universities. This work is of critical importance due the amount of environmental exposure to nanoparticle pollution encountered by the general public. The implications of this research could theoretically lead to the development of methods which control the number of trapped electrons in a nanoparticle surface to negate toxic effects in materials such as asbestos.

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Wednesday April 22, 2015 2:30pm - 4:30pm
Wilma Sherrill Center Grimes Atrium