In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some of the stories that made headlines in the world of cleanrooms and nanotechnology in the past week:
Nanoparticles are particles so small that they are measured in billionths of a meter — around one ten-thousandth the thickness of a human hair. There are about 2,000 consumer products today which contain nanoparticles to improve things like sunscreen, toothpaste, yoga mats, and athletic moisture-wicking attire. Silver nanoparticles are found in many of these products, and the silver nanoparticles wind up in rivers and other bodies of water where they are ingested by fish and other marine life. 462 — ranging from toothpaste to yoga mats — contain nanoparticles made from silver, which are used for their ability to kill bacteria. But that benefit might be coming at a cost to the environment. In many cases, simply using the products as intended causes silver nanoparticles to wind up in rivers and other bodies of water, where they can be ingested by fish and interact with other marine life. A new study by the University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology has found that smaller silver nanoparticles were more likely to enter fish’s bodies, and that they persisted longer than larger silver nanoparticles or fluid silver nitrate.
If you’re looking for the ideal energy carrier, try hydrogen. Surplus wind power could split water into its elements, and the hydrogen could power fuel cells for electric cars with the only exhaust being water. Platinum is required to reduce oxygen, however, and the material is not cheap or plentiful. Only a few particularly exposed areas of the platinum (the “active centers”) are catalytically active. A team of scientists has set out to determine what constitutes an active center.
Speaking of platinum … the next generation of platinum-copper catalysts requires very low concentrations of platinum in the form of individual atoms to cleanly and cheaply perform important chemical reactions. Researchers have discovered that dispersing individual, isolated platinum atoms in much less expensive copper surfaces can produce a reliable, budget-friendly catalyst for the selective hydrogenation of 1,3 butadiene, a chemical produced by steam cracking of naphtha or by catalytic cracking of gas oil.