Characterizing Engineered Nanomaterials: From Environmental, Health and Safety Research to the Development of Shaped Nanosphere Lithography for Metamaterials
Colvin, Vicki L.
Doctor of Philosophy
In this thesis two issues in nanotechnology have been addressed. The first is the comprehensive characterization of engineered nanomaterials prior to their examination in toxicology and environmental studies. The second is the development of a method to produce nanostructure arrays over large areas and for low cost. A major challenge when assessing nanomaterial’s risks is the robust characterization of their physicochemical properties, particularly in commercial products. Such data allows the critical features for biological outcomes to be determined. This work focused on the inorganic oxides that were studied in powdered and dispersed forms as well as directly in consumer sunscreen products. The most important finding was that the commercial sunscreens that listed titania or zinc oxide as ingredients contained nanoscale materials. Cell free photochemical tests revealed that ZnO particles without any surface coating were more active at generating ROS than surface coated TiO2 nanoparticles. These studies make clear the importance of exposure studies that examine the native form of nanomaterials directly in commercial products. The second part of this thesis presents the development of a new method to fabricate gold nanoring and nanocrescent arrays over large areas; such materials have unique optical properties consonant with those described as metamaterials. A new shaped nanosphere lithography approach was used to manipulate the form of silica nanospheres packed onto a surface; the resulting array of mushroom structures provided a mask that after gold evaporation and etching left either golden rings or crescents over the surface. The structures had tunable features, with outer diameters ranging from 200 to 350 nm for rings and crescent gap angles of ten to more than a hundred degrees. The use of a double mask method ensured the uniform coverage of these structured over 1 cm2 areas. Experimental and theoretical investigations of the optical properties of the arrays revealed the optical resonances in the infrared region. Finally, in the course of developing the nanorings, etch conditions were developed to deposit large area arrays of polystyrene nanodoughnuts with diameters from 128 to 242 nm. These non-conductive structures provide an ideal template for further attachment of magnetic of optically emissive nanoparticles.