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Free and open to the public


Harris Corporation Engineering Center, Room 101A


Nanotechnology describes the application of nanoscale materials - from 1 to 100 nm in dimension - to technologies in areas as diverse as medicine to aeronautics. Much of the promise in this emerging industry is derived from the special chemical, optical and magnetic properties of finely divided pieces of matter. As one example, this talk will illustrate how nanoscale magnets can be used in novel ways to clean water. By virtue of their high surface areas, iron oxides offer a large sorption capacity for both selenium and arsenic in a small package; their small size also stabilizes single domain magnetic dipoles that have strong interactions with external field gradients. This enables nanosorbents to be magnetically captured with handheld magnets, and removes the need for slow and often inefficient filtration or sedimentation processes. Magnetic separation of high surface area materials, while developed for water treatment, also finds use in remote sensing as well as supported catalysts. One new area of focus has been the translation of these concepts and capabilities in nanotechnology to upstream oil and gas production; nanoparticles engineered with unique electromagnetic signatures, for example, could be used to map the local chemical environment within a reservoir. Such a possibility requires nanoparticles well engineered for high mobility in a wide variety of chemical environments. As these new materials are designed and engineered, it is critical that researchers also minimize any unwanted environmental and human impacts of nanomaterials. Safety has become a major issue in nanotechnology commercialization, and new approaches to risk engineering have highlighted the possibility of eco-responsible design - often coincident with material development for applications. Such strategies are vital to ensure that nanotechnology will fulfill its promise as a game-changing industry well positioned to solve the worlds energy challenges.