Cleaning without chemicals? Part I – The use and hazards of traditional cleaning chemicals

This is part one of a two (maybe three…definitely four at the most) part series What motivated me to explore the chemical world of cleaning? Is it possible to have nice smelling armpits without lathering up some soap in the shower? Can we permanently get rid of those traditional cleaning chemicals that almost everyone has …

The Cautionary Tale of DDT – Biomagnification, Bioaccumulation, and Research Motivation

We perform many different kinds of experiments in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology—some that you might expect (like making new kinds of nanoparticles), and some that you might not (like feeding nanoparticles to tiny organisms such as bacteria and water fleas).  The second kind of experiment may seem a little strange to you: why is …

Paper or Plastic? Sustainability is a Multi-Dimensional Problem

Part 1 in the "How is That Sustainable?" Series “Paper or plastic?” This was the question you always used to get once you’d made it through the checkout line to the grocery store register (at least when I was growing up). Ever since about 2005, however, it seemed like it was becoming increasingly rare to …

Friday Video: Does Every Silver Lining Have a Cloud?

Happy Friday! That was a video by our friends at the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at Duke University. Our research goals are related to theirs. They are looking at things more from the perspective of the entire ecosystem, while we are taking a more "zoomed-in" approach--looking at things from the atomic- and molecular-scale. …

Silver For Your Smelly Socks??

Silver nanoparticles can be found in socks and sports clothing because of their ability to kill bacteria and inhibit unwanted odors.  Their antibacterial properties are exploited in a number of other products on the market, including cutting boards, computer keyboards, personal care products…and the list goes on. The multitude of uses explains why nanoparticles made …

The Canary in the Coal Mine and a Whole Lot More: The Reproductive Habits and Scientific Utility of the Water Flea

Asexual and sexual reproduction are two ways that plants and animals can reproduce, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these methods of reproduction. Scientists have harnessed the asexual reproduction habits of a tiny freshwater crustacean in order to better understand the biological effects of environmental pollutants. Before we get to that, let’s …