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Home > Press > Nanotechnology and the Environment: savior or hazard ?

Abstract:
Do the hazards of widespread adoption of nanotechnology to humans and the
environment outweigh its many benefits? Professor Geoff Smith an applied physicist
from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia addresses this current
controversy associated with our quest for technological solutions to environment
degradation, resource depletion and energy related emissions, in a commentary
article in the February edition of the Journal of Nanophotonics*. He summarises
with examples from the optical and thermal science of nanostructures the many
practical means to harmonize the response of everyday materials to the complex
energy flows in the environment so as to meet human needs. This means dealing
optimally at low cost with all of the following: solar energy, thermal flows including
radiation to and from the atmosphere, local climate, glare, and includes the variation
of each over a day and seasons and as a function of direction.

Nanotechnology and the Environment: savior or hazard ?

Sydney, Australia | Posted on March 6th, 2011

In this process also lies the clues to dealing with any hazards that are identified.
In brief he says nanoscience is revealing to us a world of almost infinite materials
engineering possibilities. Natural nanostructures demonstrate the point. Nano-
diversity made possible the stunning diversity of life-forms on earth and the ability
of many to change and evolve to superior forms when the local environment turned
hazardous. In technology this means testing for safety, gleaning out toxic materials
which may include some uses of select nanoparticles and developing alternatives
for which nanoscience is needed. Smith also mentions three important less studied
aspects; impact on performance of nanostructure changes that sometimes occur
upon long term environmental exposure or during large-scale manufacture; plus
potential for "bonus" benefits to the environment and people. The example he
gives of the latter is the benefits of multiple cool roofs to both cooler city and urban
precincts and to global cooling.

* J. Nanophoton. 5, 050301 (Feb 03, 2011); doi:10.1117/1.3549225 (this article is open

access)

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Geoff Smith
Emeritus Professor in Applied Physics
Physics and Advanced Materials
University of Technology - Sydney
PO Box 123
Broadway NSW 2007 Australia
Email
Ph +61 2 95142224

Copyright © University of Technology, Sydney

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