Ligands and media impact interactions between engineered nanomaterials and clay minerals
Johnson, Carol A.
Nguyen, Thuy T.
Dennis, Allison M.
Goldfarb, Jillian L.
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Citation (published version)Carol A Johnson, Margaret Chern, Thuy T Nguyen, Allison M Dennis, Jillian L Goldfarb. 2019. "Ligands and media impact interactions between engineered nanomaterials and clay minerals." NanoImpact, Volume 13, pp. 112 - 122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.impact.2019.01.004
The exponential growth in technologies incorporating engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) requires plans to handle waste ENM disposal and accidental environmental release throughout the material life cycle. These scenarios motivate efforts to quantify and model ENM interactions with diverse background particles and solubilized chemical species in a variety of environmental systems. In this study, quantum dot (QD) nanoparticles and clay minerals were mixed in a range of water chemistries in order to develop simple assays to predict aggregation trends. CdSe QDs were used as a model ENM functionalized with either negatively charged or zwitterionic small molecule ligand coatings, while clays were chosen as an environmentally relevant sorbent given their potential as an economical water treatment technology and ubiquitous presence in nature. In our unbuffered experimental systems, clay type impacted pH, which resulted in a change in zwitterionic ligand speciation that favored aggregation with kaolinite more than with montmorillonite. With kaolinite, the zwitterionic ligand-coated QD exhibited greater than ten times the relative attachment efficiency for QD-clay heteroaggregation compared to the negatively charged ligand coated QD. Under some conditions, particle oxidative dissolution and dynamic sorption of ions and QDs to surfaces complicated the interpretation of the removal kinetics. This work demonstrates that QDs stabilized by small molecule ligands and electrostatic surface charges are highly sensitive to changes in water chemistry in complex media. Natural environments enable rapid dynamic physicochemical changes that will influence the fate and mobility of ENMs, as seen by the differential adsorption of water-soluble QDs to our clay media.