Study Finds Nanomaterials Can Degrade in Soil, Releasing Toxic Ions

Quantum dots made from cadmium and selenium degrade in soil, unleashing toxic
cadmium and selenium ions into their surroundings, a University at Buffalo
study has found.

The research, accepted for publication in the journal Environmental Science and
Technology, demonstrates the importance of learning more about how quantum dots
- and other nanomaterials - interact with the environment after disposal, said
Diana Aga, the chemistry professor who led the study.

Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals with diameters of about 2 to 100
nanometers. Though quantum dots are not yet commonly used in consumer products,
scientists are exploring the particles' applications in technologies ranging
from solar panels to biomedical imaging.

"Quantum dots are not yet used widely, but they have a lot of potential, and we
can anticipate that the use of this nanomaterial will increase," said Aga, who
presented the findings in late June at a National Science Foundation-funded
workshop on nanomaterials in the environment. "We can also anticipate that
their occurrence in the environment will also increase, and we need to be
proactive and learn more about whether these materials will be a problem when
they enter the environment."

"We can conclude from our research that there is potential for some negative
impacts, since the quantum dots biodegrade. But there is also a possibility to
modify the chemistry, the surface of the nanomaterials, to prevent degradation
in the future," she said.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Environmental Protection