All that is gold is not biochemically stable
by Staff Writers
Durham NC (SPX) Sep 04, 2018
It turns out gold isn't always the shining example of a biologically stable material that it's assumed to be, according to environmental engineers at Duke's Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT).
In a nanoparticle form, the normally very stable, inert, noble metal actually gets dismantled by a microbe found on a Brazilian aquatic weed.
While the findings don't provide dire warnings about any unknown toxic effects of gold, they do provide a warning to researchers on how it is used in certain experiments.
The study was published August 13 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
CEINT researchers from Duke, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Kentucky were running an experiment to investigate how nanoparticles used as a commercial pesticide affect wetland environments in the presence of added nutrients. Although real-world habitats often receive doses of both pesticides and fertilizers, most studies on the environmental effects of such compounds only look at a single contaminant at a time.
For nine months, the researchers released low doses of nitrogen, phosphorus and copper hydroxide nanoparticles into wetland mesocosms - small, manmade structures containing different plants and microorganisms meant to represent a natural environment with experimental controls. The goal was to see where the nanoparticle pesticides ended up and how they affected the plant and animal life within the mesocosm.
The researchers also released low doses of gold nanoparticles as tracers, assuming the biologically inert nanoparticles would remain stable while migrating through the ecosystem. This would help the researchers interpret data on the pesticide particles that partly dissolve by showing them how a solid metal particle acts within the system.
But when the researchers went to analyze their results, they found that many of the gold nanoparticles had been oxidized and dissolved.
"We were taken completely by surprise," said Mark Wiesner, the James B. Duke Professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering at Duke. "The nanoparticles that were supposed to be the most stable turned out to be the least stable of all."
After further inspection, the researchers found the culprit - the microbiome growing on a common Brazilian waterweed called Egeria densa. Many bacteria secrete chemicals to essentially mine metallic nutrients from their surroundings. With their metabolism spiked by the experiment's added nutrients, the bacteria living on the E. densa were catalyzing the reaction to dissolve the gold nanoparticles.
This process wouldn't pose any threat to humans or other animal species in the wild. But when researchers design experiments with the assumption that their gold nanoparticles will remain intact, the process can confound the interpretation of their results.
"The assumption that gold is inert did not hold in these experiments," said Wiesner. "This is a good lesson that underscores how real, complex environments, that include for example the bacteria growing on leaves, can give very different results from experiments run in a laboratory setting that do not include these complexities."
Chemists make breakthrough on road to creating a rechargeable lithium-oxygen battery
Waterloo, Canada (SPX) Aug 30, 2018
Chemists from the University of Waterloo have successfully resolved two of the most challenging issues surrounding lithium-oxygen batteries, and in the process created a working battery with near 100 per cent coulombic efficiency. The new work, which appears this week in Science, proves that four-electron conversion for lithium-oxygen electrochemistry is highly reversible. The team is the first to achieve four-electron conversion, which doubles the electron storage of lithium-oxygen, also known as ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.