Nanoparticles – tiny bits of matter found in many products, are ending up in our water supply and the environment. Scientists are developing new ways of studying nanomaterials, with tools like a microscope that produces a Hyperspectral Image an image that looks more like what you might expect to see in a telescope. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Hendren: Hyperspectral imaging allows us to create what looks like a picture of a galaxy with all these different colors.
Christine Ogilvie Hendren is the Executive Director of the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at Duke University. Hyperspectral imaging is helping Christine and her colleagues see nanomaterials in a new way.
For example, when you get back a hyperspectral image of nanomaterials on a backdraft of sediment, you will get a picture that looks like a starscape with all different colors. Each element might glow at a slightly different color and we can mathematically know which ones are exactly the material we are seeking in this complex medium, as opposed to before where we would have had to isolate and look at these samples separated from where we really want to be detecting them. And this helps us to understand the way that nanomaterials might change and transport through the environment. It’s the first time we were able to see nanomaterials outside of an isolated sample and inside something as complex as a wetland soil system.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology and the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner