Visualisation of Nanoparticles in the Environment

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Environment Centre


This study will identify whether a new technology Two-photon excitation microscopy coupled with autofluorescence (TPEM-AF), pioneered at Lancaster, can be used as a tool to visualise engineered nanoparticles in living systems. Selected engineered nanoparticles will be analysed, to test the scope and power of the technique, and its limitations. Our objective is to see whether TPEM-AF helps us to see nanomaterials and chemicals which may be on them in environmental samples. We plan to test the technique on vegetation, because we have a lot of experience in using it to visualise and track chemicals on and in leaves and roots. We also know from our previous work that the techniques can be used to see particles at the fine scale, on leaves, and we have seen how chemicals on fine particles can be released and diffuse through leaf and root surfaces into cells. We believe this will be a powerful tool for tracking nonmaterials too, particularly since we can see inside living tissues with the technique. There is considerable interest in whether nanomaterials get absorbed by living systems, and what happens to the chemical components that may be coated on them. In the future this novel technique will provide a powerful tool giving an important insight into how chemicals ,sorbed to nanoparticles, transfer into terrestrial media and futhermore will identify the fundamental fate processes (accumulation, degradedation, transportation?) of the chemicals in living systems.


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