News: Our top read articles on Environmental Science: Nano



We are pleased to see that two papers authored by VTSuN members have made it into the 2015 Most Downloaded Articles for the new journal Environmental Science: Nano (also known as ES:Nano).

The first article was written by VTSuN professor and co-director Mike Hochella, professor Michael Spencer of Cornell University, and professor Kim Jones of Howard University:

Nanotechnology: nature’s gift or scientists’ brainchild?

In the field of environmental nanotechnology, opinions on the novelty of engineered nanomaterials vary; some scientists believe that many engineered nanomaterials are indeed unique, while others are convinced that we are simply fabricating structures already designed in nature. In this article, we present balanced, objective evidence on both sides of the debate. While the idea of novel nanomaterials opens the mind to imagine truly unique structures with architectures unparalleled in nature, the idea that these structures have related analogs in nature has environmental relevance as scientists and engineers aim to design and manufacture more sustainable and environmentally benign nanomaterials.

The untended meadow of nature’s nanostructures and the English-style garden of engineered nanomaterials.

This work takes you around the universe and back to demonstrate the importance of determining whether naturally-occurring nanomaterials are representative of the novel and well-controlled structures engineered by man. {also take a look at this ES:Nano Blog post about this paper}


Plasmonic colorimetric and SERS sensors for environmental analysis

The potential for water pollution outbreaks requires the development of rapid, yet simple detection methods for water quality monitoring. Plasmonic nanostructures such as gold (AuNPs) and silver (AgNPs) nanoparticles are compelling candidates for the development of highly sensitive biosensors due to their unique localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs). The LSPR of AuNPs and AgNPs lies in the visible and infrared light range and is sensitive to the composition, size, shape, surrounding medium, and aggregation state of these NPs. This plasmonic behavior provides the basis for fabrication of colorimetric sensors for environmental analyses. Furthermore, the LSPR also enhances the electromagnetic field near the NP surface, which provides the basis for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) based detection. Organic or inorganic pollutants and pathogens can be detected and differentiated based upon the finger-print spectra that arise when they enter SERS-active hot spots. In this tutorial review, we summarize progress made towards environmental analysis based on LSPR-based colorimetric and SERS detection. The problems and challenges that have hindered the development of LSPR-based nanosensors for real-world environmental pollutant monitoring are extensively discussed.

Schematic of the surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy phenomenon for organic molecules on the surface of gold nanoparticles.

For more information on Raman Spectroscopy, please see our tutorial blog post: Raman Spectroscopy in Nanotechnology.


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