How to clean up nanoparticles

Sept. 13, 2007
Bacteria discovered in a flooded Wisconsin mine excrete proteins that collect metal nanoparticles.

A team from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), UC Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say the bacteria are binding and immobilizing the nanoparticles themselves, which are potentially toxic to the bacteria.

Sulfate-reducing bacteria can cause heavy metals such as zinc to precipitate and form nanoparticles. However, these particles move freely because they are so small (typically 2-6 nanometers in diameter) and redissolve if conditions change.

Researchers showed that the mine bacteria cause nanoparticles to aggregate, limiting their movement and thereby protecting the bacteria. When the metal nanoparticles aggregate, they don't move as easily and are less soluble.

Using ion-mass and infra-red spectrometry, as well as transmission electron microscopy, and infra-red spectroscopy, the scientists determined that protein contributes to the formation of densely aggregated nanoparticulate zinc-sulfide spheroids, and that various amino acids induce rapid aggregation in metal-sulfide nanoparticles.

"Potentially we can use proteins for nanoparticle clean up," says researcher Peter Weber of LLNL. "With the boom in nanoscience, people are asking questions about potential environmental impact. Here, we see that naturally produced nanoparticles can be naturally controlled."

Zinc-sulfide nanoparticles in the presence of cysteine clump together.

Sponsored Recommendations

MOVI-C Unleashed: Your One-Stop Shop for Automation Tasks

April 17, 2024
Discover the versatility of SEW-EURODRIVE's MOVI-C modular automation system, designed to streamline motion control challenges across diverse applications.

The Power of Automation Made Easy

April 17, 2024
Automation Made Easy is more than a slogan; it signifies a shift towards smarter, more efficient operations where technology takes on the heavy lifting.

Lubricants: Unlocking Peak Performance in your Gearmotor

April 17, 2024
Understanding the role of lubricants, how to select them, and the importance of maintenance can significantly impact your gearmotor's performance and lifespan.

From concept to consumption: Optimizing success in food and beverage

April 9, 2024
Identifying opportunities and solutions for plant floor optimization has never been easier. Download our visual guide to quickly and efficiently pinpoint areas for operational...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!