The PI's request funding to acquire an asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (FFF) system. This instrument will support cross-disciplinary faculty research that integrates graduate and undergraduate education with research. The requested instrument will add new research capabilities, support and augment graduate education and ongoing research projects in natural colloids and nanoparticles in aquatic systems. It has been shown that colloids and nanoparticles are important intermediaries in regulating the concentration and speciation and thus the fate, transport and bioavailability/toxicity of many chemical species and contaminants in aquatic environments. However, quantitative characterization of natural colloids and knowledge of their environmental behavior remains scarce. Flow field-flow fractionation is a chromatograph-like elution technique capable of simultaneous separation and characterization of colloids, nanoparticles and macromolecules. It has the advantages of providing a continuous size distribution or size spectrum of colloids and other nanoparticles. By interfacing directly or indirectly with other online or offline detection techniques such as ICP-MS and gamma/alpha spectrometer, it will allow the elucidation of pathways and mechanisms in the interactions between colloids/macromolecules and trace metals and radionuclides in aquatic environments.
The requested instrument will add new research capabilities, support and augment graduate education and our ongoing research projects in natural colloids and engineered nanoparticles in aquatic systems. The new instrument will integrate graduate and undergraduate research training with education in marine biogeochemical and environmental research. USM is an EPSCoR institution with over 27% minorities so this facility would enhance the training and support of a diverse workforce. Collaborators from several nearby academic institutions and federal agencies have also declared that this system would be utilized by them if brought to USM.