Benjamin Gilbert, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Our understanding of the natural environment has been transformed by the realization that mineral nanoparticles are ubiquitous and play central roles in some of the most important geochemical and biogeochemical cycles. In many settings, insight into environmental chemistry cannot be attained without considering the impact of the formation, dissolution, or surface reactivity of natural nanoparticles. Moreover, there is a very close coupling between microbial activity and nanoparticle formation or transformation through both protein-mediated and indirect reactions. Because nanoparticles can exhibit distinct properties relative to their bulk counterparts, yet are exceptionally difficult to identify, study and model, integrating nanoparticles into our models of the environment represents a major current challenge within the geosciences.
Advances in nanoscience and technology are additionally creating new opportunities and potential hazards for sustainable environmental stewardship. High surface area materials can be harnessed by novel strategies for drinking water remediation or air quality assurance. However, with growing technological and industrial applications of nanomaterials, the risk of inadvertent release of potentially mobile, bioavailable and reactive nanoscale contaminants continues to rise.
The Berkeley Nanogeoscience Center:
Mineralogical Society of America volume on nanogeoscience:
Chapter 6 of the Mineralogical Society of America volume on geomicrobiology:
Special issue of Elements magazine dedicated to nanogeoscience: