NanoEHS: Fundamental Science Needs

A workshop sponsored by
The National Science Foundation and SNO
Saturday, November 1, 2014

Vicki H. Grassian, Workshop Chair
Amanda J. Haes, Workshop Co-Chair

The development of NanoEHS and the field of sustainable nanotechnology must be backed by solid scientific underpinnings. One grand challenge includes a greater understanding of the size and shape dependent properties of nanomaterials from a fundamental chemistry and physics perspective and then applying this understanding to environmental health and safety issues associated with nanomaterials. A National Science Foundation Sponsored Workshop focused on identifying and highlighting fundamental science needs in NanoEHS research will be held in association with the 2014 SNO annual meeting.

Nanomaterials exist in various sizes, shapes, compositions, phases. They exhibit novel behavior that is characteristic of nanoscale materials, arising in part due to the fact that nanomaterial properties depend on size, shape, surface and bulk composition and these dependencies are based on fundamental quantum mechanics, condensed phase physics, surface chemistry and physics, statistical mechanics, and the physical chemistry/chemical physics of these materials. For example, classical models do not account for any details of surface structure and surface energetics that are needed to fully understand nanoparticle behavior. In other words, fundamental physics and chemistry are important components to understanding the behavior of these materials, particularly in relation to their interactions with living systems. This workshop "NanoEHS: Fundamental Science Needs" will focus on identifying fundamental knowledge gaps that lead to uncertainties in predicting the behavior of nanomaterials and nanomaterial interactions with environmental and biological systems. As typical NanoEHS studies focus on nanoparticles in the 20-30 nm and above size range, the role of very small nanoparticles between ca.1 to 4 nm in diameter has not been as widely addressed. Several recent papers have tried to address what size range is most appropriate for the unique behavior of nanoscale particles. Therefore, the importance of "very small" nanoparticles where quantum size effects and surface structure and energetics play an important role will be addressed in this workshop. The results of this workshop will be written up and submitted to the journal Environmental Science: Nano for publication.