The smallest particles in materials research, nanoparticles, have occupied us intensively for more than 20 years to elucidate and further investigate their safety for humans and the environment. Now, however, the development is going from “small = nano” to “clever = advanced”, as discussed in a contribution by international scientists. Thereby, it is a great advantage to learn directly from the developments and achievements in the safety research of nanomaterials or to be able to transfer and apply them to advanced materials as well. In addition to the question “What is actually advanced or smart”, the demand for “Safe and sustainable by design (SSbD)” is also raised and the associated challenges are addressed. Important criteria for research here are the possibilities of characterizing the object of investigation, i.e. the concrete description of an advanced material, as well as the quality of the data generated and the data management. Again, the need for close collaboration between scientists from different disciplines with other stakeholders such as industry or regulatory authorities is pointed out. The authors make the important observation that nanosafety research to date has provided and will further provide the tools to meet this new challenge as well.
In doing so, they draw attention to three important prerequisites:
- The extension from “nano” to “advanced materials” should be based on technical criteria and include modelling as well as grouping approaches.
- Furthermore, sustainability should be integrated into the new material designs.
- And finally, these two principles should be firmly anchored in research, innovation and regulation to ensure a smooth transition to the implementation of the new and innovative materials.
Valsami-Jones, E et al. (2022). From small to clever: What does the future hold for the safety and sustainability of advanced materials? Nano Today, 42
Spotlight June 2023: New catalytic process for recovering important materials from composites in a single process
Previously virtually impossible and a huge problem: fibre-reinforced resin composites (epoxides) were not recyclable, and wind turbine rotor blades, for example, add up to a waste pile of 43 million tons by 2050. Researchers have now taken an important first step in “reprocessing” these composites and catalytically dissolving them so that the carbon fibres and […]Read more
Spotlight July: Plastic Pollution and the Urgent Need for Comprehensive Action
Plastic pollution has become a significant threat to the oceans, biodiversity, and ecosystems worldwide. Despite efforts to reduce plastic consumption, escalating plastic production continues to increase the magnitude of plastic pollution in the environment. In response to this crisis, the UN-Environmental Assembly (Link) adopted a resolution in March 2022 to develop a legally binding treaty […]Read more
Spotlight January 2021: Nanoplastics challenge – How to improve tracking of nanopolystyrene distribution in the environment.
In January, we present a paper published in the Nature Journal communications materials. The article focuses on the development of a new detection method of nanopolystyrene. The method not only makes it possible to detect nanoplastics in the environment for the first time, but also to determine their accumulation in plants and animals. Nanoplastics, which […]Read more
Spotlight October 2021: Nanopesticides – a proposal for a risk assessment framework
The application of so-called “nanopesticides” (see also cross-sectional text Nanomaterials in plant protection products) is said to have two basic advantages: a smaller amount of pesticide is needed for the same agricultural area and the efficacy is improved. This is necessary to grow enough food for a still growing world population. However, this could also […]Read more