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Profs. Joey Mead of the Plastics Engineering Department, and Michael Ellenbecker and Dhimiter Bello of the Work Environment Department spoke at the recent New England International Nanomanufacturing Workshop organized by the National Science Foundation’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN).
The workshop, co-hosted by Northeastern University, UMass Lowell and the University of New Hampshire, addressed the issue of how to break barriers to nanomanufacturing to enable the commercialization of nanotechnology. About 100 experts from business, industry and academia took part in the two-day event, which was held in September at Northeastern University in Boston.
Mead, who is co-director of UMass Lowell’s Nanomanufacturing Center, discussed high-rate nanomanufacturing using directed assembly of polymer structures. “The Center has developed a suite of templates and processes for directing the assembly of a variety of nanoelements,” she says. “This can be used to generate a variety of complex geometries, which have potential applications in the fabrication of integrated circuits in nanoelectronics.”
Ellenbecker and Bello gave presentations on their work relating to the health and safety aspects of nanomanufacturing.
“I discussed some of the results of our work in monitoring airborne nanoparticle exposures in the various CHN labs ߝ work led by Dr. Candace Tsai, a postdoc working closely with me,” says Ellenbecker, who is director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute. “I also discussed the best practices to be followed by researchers when working with engineered nanoparticles. Candace and I just received a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, based on our preliminary work presented at the workshop, to develop a best practices document for them.”
Ellenbecker also described the formation of a new consortium ߝ the CHN Nanomaterials and Health Consortium ߝ to assist companies in addressing nanoparticle health and safety concerns.
Bello talked about the interdisciplinary effort that he, Prof. Eugene Rogers of the Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences Department, Prof. Daniel Schmidt of the Plastics Engineering Department, and biomedical engineering and biotechnology doctoral student Shu-Feng Hsieh are doing to bridge materials science, clinical chemistry, toxicology and the human-exposure assessment of nanomaterials.
Bello presented results of their research in developing a screening assay to quickly and easily evaluate the relative toxicities of the different types of nanoparticles. “This high-rate screening can be used to guide responsible, sustainable nanomanufacturing and risk-assessment efforts,” he says. “As importantly, our work on the oxidative-stress potential of nanomaterials is extremely helpful in understanding and identifying important exposure metrics for studies of health effects to nanomaterials and in the interpretation of the biological significance of nanomaterial exposures, as we are measuring them in several workplace settings.”