Stony Brook University,
Keywords: nanotoxicty, nanomaterials release, safety of nanotechnology
Summary:There is growing interest in the development of nanocomposites consisting of organic polymers and various nanomaterials. These new materials can provide unique functionalities as compared to unmodified polymers in terms of dielectric, magnetic, thermal, mechanical, optical, transport, permeation and separation properties. Although nanomaterials are considered potentially hazardous, they are often considered safe when encapsulated into the matrix. However, systematic research to confirm the abovementioned paradigm is lacking, despite the potential risks of nanomaterial release to human health and environment. Current research on the stability of nanocomposites has focused primarily on short term stability and performance, whereas the longer term issues have not been properly addressed. This knowledge gap has the potential to hinder both applications and acceptance of polymers in various industries. More specifically, stability of both matrix and nanocomposites are of critical importance. It is known that the polymer matrix can undergo degradation when exposed to various environmental conditions during production, use and disposal. This can lead to nanofiller release, which can potentially cause various health and environmental problems. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to understand the behavior of nanocomposites under relevant environmental conditions. More specifically, evaluation of the amounts and rates of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) release from composites has been a tremendous challenge for the existing analytical techniques so far. This paper will describe results of the NSF funded project, which utilized labeled CNTs to quantify the released CNTs. Development of this simple technique is of notable value for advancing our knowledge of various CNTs exposure scenarios by developing accurate metrology tools. This tool can be also vital for development of accurate life cycle assessments of CNTs encapsulated into the polymer composites.