Accidental nanoparticles in the environment: the nanoplastic pollution problem

When you hear the term “plastic pollution,” what do you think of? If you’re like me, you might picture a pile of garbage on a beach, or microplastic beads inside a fish. Most of us are aware that plastic pollution can be found everywhere. But you might be surprised to learn that "everywhere" in this …

Lipid Nanoparticles in COVID Vaccines

cartoon of a lipid nanoparticle showing a lipid bilayer ring (hairpin shapes with open ends toward each other) surrounding a DNA helix shape in the center

Now that children from 5 to 11 years old are eligible to receive COVID vaccines, many people are wondering again about exactly how they work. You may have heard that both Moderna and Pfizer make mRNA vaccines (more on that in a minute). But the vaccines would not be effective with mRNA alone. Another significant …

How is a shopping cart like a nanoparticle? What coarse-grained molecular models can show us about nano-bio interactions

Imagine you work at a grocery store and you need to figure out how many shopping carts will fit in a certain space. You know that each shopping cart is 33 inches long, but you might decide to round that up to 36 inches (3 feet) for your estimation: That rounding is just one example …

Quantum Dots and Lipid Rafts: Analytical Chemistry Solves a Nanoscale Mystery

Remember all those great Black Friday deals on QLED televisions? You may not realize it, but they were all about nanotechnology! The Q in QLED stands for quantum dots, which are not only being used to enhance the displays of TVs, but also are used in solar cells, medical imaging, and sensing.1-3 However, the disposal …

What Does Nanotechnology Have to Do with Chocolate?

chocolate

A few days from now is Valentine’s Day, a day to take time to appreciate what matters the most in life… chocolate! I’m sure you’ve seen the tiny, cheesy, heart-shaped boxes of off-brand chocolates in grocery and convenience stores around this time of year. Maybe you’ve even been gifted this inexpensive treat before. How do …

What’s in a scientific publication’s name? One research article title explained

I recently had an article published in the journal Environmental Science: Nano along with seven co-authors from the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. The title is “Formation of supported lipid bilayers containing phase-segregated domains and their interaction with gold nanoparticles.”1 At first glance that title may be confusing, but I promise it will all make sense …

Why Shouldn’t We Toss Lithium-Ion Batteries in the Trash?

If you’re like me, you might already have a pile of old electronics in your basement, waiting for you to figure out what to do with them. You haven’t put them out with the trash, because you know it’s a good idea to keep them out of landfills… But why is that?  Researchers have known …

The Atomic Force Microscope – Probing to “See” at the Nanoscale

Take a look around – do you see a surface that looks a little bumpy?  Now close your eyes, reach out your hand, and feel that surface. Got an idea of what it feels like? Great! Now, could you use what you’ve learned with your sense of touch to draw a picture of this bumpy …

How Do Scientists Understand the Cell Membrane?

One of the primary goals of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology is to understand what happens when nanomaterials are exposed to biological systems like organisms or even cells. How can we do this? You may think back to an introductory biology class and recall a few buzz words about cells, like endoplasmic reticulum, vesicles, and …