How to reduce the risk of ultra­thin  nanomaterials damaging the environment 
AUTHOR : Seigo Masuda

Wearable smart watches, flexible phones, and super­tiny robots are all examples of nanotechnology products used by consumers – but what happens to these materials once they have been used and discarded?

Such devices are developed by manipulating very small-­scale materials, known as nanomaterials, which are so miniscule that they are invisible to the naked eye. A very powerful microscope which fires lasers is used to display images of these nanomaterials.

The use of nanomaterials is widespread and goes far beyond the world of technology gadgets. They can also be found in products such as sunscreens, tennis rackets, and clothes. 

Scientists and governments are concerned about the lifecycle of these nanomaterials – from production to disposal – and the impact they may have on the environment. 

This project studies how an emerging class of ultra­thin, sheet­like  nanomaterials, called two­dimensional nanomaterials, behave against bacteria in the soil.

Previous research has suggested that these nanomaterials kill bacteria in soils. A powerful imaging technique will help to develop a better understanding of how the sheet-like material interacts with the bacteria.

These findings about how nanomaterials can cause damage to the bacteria in the environment can then be used to provide the growing industry with more risk assessment information.

It is hoped that businesses and governments will then be equipped with a better understanding of the safety measures required when developing nanomaterials for commercial use, in order to limit their damage to the environment once disposed of by consumers.

CATEGORY : Smart Materials