Student Research: Nicholas Clark
Nanotechnology holds promise as an emerging technology with myriad applications. For example, quantum dots (often abbreviated Qdots) are a nanomaterial that can be used in anti-counterfeiting ink, photovoltaics, and biological imaging. However, the composition of Qdots raises an issue of particular relevance to the last application: in one ubiquitous formulation, their core contains cadmium, a potent toxicant. If the quantum dot’s shell is destroyed by conditions inside the body, cadmium would be free to cause adverse effects. This leads to the necessity of assessing the potential cadmium toxicity of this type of Qdot.
Since workers that deal with these materials in particular are exposed by a number of routes, characterization of those distinct routes is imperative. This project deals with inhalation exposures, culminating in an apparatus that generates a Qdot-containing test atmosphere in a small chamber. By putting test organisms in this chamber, the extent of toxicological and biotransformational effects can be measured. The main purpose of this thesis project is to create the exposure system and characterize the quantum dot aerosol, through describing the number concentration, size distribution, and the resulting dose of cadmium for a hypothetical test animal.