**For Immediate Release**
Less is More
OPSU chemist explores practical nanotechnology use
- released by OPSU Campus Communications 05-09-07
by Satish Kuriyavar and Laura Hays
Goodwell, Okla. — Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Satish Kuriyavar, appreciates the small things in life. He continues research in nanotechnology, a branch of technology devoted to producing devices on an atomic scale that he began during his Ph.D. studies at Oklahoma State University. With help from Dr. Allen W. Apblett of OSU and two OPSU students, James Guthrie and Johnathon Dennis, he has been developing new ways to use the technology.
Nanotechnology has received a considerable amount of attention in the last few years. Defined as fabrication/manipulation of materials with atomic or molecular scale precision, nanometric materials must have a minimum feature size less than 100 nanometers (nm). A nanometer is one billionth of a meter (10-9 m), and for a comparison, the width of a human hair is around 80,000 nanometers. A nanometer-sized particle is also smaller than a living cell and can be seen only with the most powerful microscopes available today. At such a small scale, the physical, chemical, and biological properties of materials differ in fundamental and valuable ways from the properties of individual atoms and molecules or bulk matter. Scientists exploit these unusual properties of nanoparticles to synthesize new materials with exceptional advantages.
However, their small size makes it difficult to take advantage of these benefits, and their practical use in the area of water treatment suffered due to their suspension in water, their propensity to clog filters and the high pressure requirements needed to make it effective. Kuriyavar and his colleagues developed a simple and practical way of utilizing nanoparticles for water treatment. The group prepared spherical nanocrystaline aggregates of iron and zinc oxide derived from cation exchange resins. The spheres exhibit good mechanical strength and have very high surface areas (approximately 200-300 times higher than bulk material). These nanometric zinc and iron oxide showed extremely good absorption capacities where other materials have failed.
The team specifically studied the usefulness of this material in removing arsenic from drinking water. Water treated with these aggregates complies with the new stringent Environmental Protection Agency standard for arsenic for drinking water which is 10 parts per billion. For example, drinking water in Canadian County, Oklahoma was found to be out of compliance with this standard, and this newly developed material can be used in the form of an at-the-tap water purification device to remove arsenic from water, making it safe to use.
Also, the group has developed a convenient route to prepare magnetic resins that have great potential for environmental remediation of dyes and heavy metal ions from water. These ion exchange resin beads include an outer ring of highly magnetic magnetite nanoparticles, and this material separates easily once the remediation process is complete. The magnetic ion exchange beads can be introduced into flowing bodies of water or pipelines to remove heavy metal ions and industrial dyes. Once the extraction is complete, the nanoparticles can be removed using a strong electro-magnet, which enables the user to make the whole process mechanical, thus avoiding human exposure entirely. These beads have shown promising results for the removal of lead, uranium and dyes from textile industry.
Kuriyavar, Apblett, Guthrie and Dennis presented their recent findings at the 233rd American Chemical Society National Meeting in Chicago held March 25-29, 2007. One of the largest professional meetings in the chemistry field that commonly hosts about 15,000 people, the group’s work was selected to be presented at the Sci-Mix event which highlights interesting research topics from different fields in chemistry. The group benefited from suggestions, questions and offers to collaborate with some other research groups active in the same areas, and hope to continue exploring ways nanotechnology can provide safer drinking water and a cleaner environment.