A collaborative team consisting of researchers from The George Washington University and the University of Notre Dame is exploring the interplay between emerging photoreactive 2D nanomaterials, i.e., graphitic carbon nitride and black phosphorus nanosheets, and biofilms in natural environment through a highly integrated and sophisticated approach. Photoreactive 2D nanomaterials have emerged as promising materials in recent years for their broad engineering applications, however, incidental release and disposal of these nanomaterials could pose adverse impacts on the environment. Potential impacts of these photoreactive 2D nanomaterials is currently unknown. The investigators will explore the effects of photoreactive 2D nanomaterials on biofilms that play a critical role in the natural environment and ecological systems. The photoreactive 2D nanomaterials can harvest and utilize visible to mid-infrared light to produce oxidative species or localized heat; therefore, these photoreactive 2D nanomaterials could interfere with biological systems by inducing stresses upon light exposure. This research project will provide fundamental understanding of reactive materials and biological systems, which will be far reaching due to the ubiquitous presence of such systems, both man-made and naturally occurring. This research project has the potential to be transformative for material development through the improvement of multiscale, rational, functional design, and it will contribute significantly to nanotechnology, biological engineering, materials science and engineering, and environmental engineering. The project will provide training to students in science and engineering areas and offer them hands-on research experience, and introduce students from diverse backgrounds and educational levels, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to cutting-edge research in science and engineering. In addition, the project will disseminate the acquired knowledge through education modules, scientific journals and conferences, and science fairs.
The research team aims to understand the interplay between emerging photoreactive 2D nanomaterials (i.e., graphitic carbon nitride and black phosphorus nanosheets) and biofilms in natural environment through nanomaterial, biomaterial, and computational characterizations. The proposed research will employ a multi-faceted approach that combines (i) synthesis and characterization of photoreactive 2D nanomaterials, (ii) chemical and biological characterizations of biofilms in response to photoreactive 2D nanomaterials, and (iii) ageing of photoreactive 2D nanomaterials and the resultant impacts on biofilms. The research will generate correlations between nanomaterial properties, biofilm chemical compositions and biological gene regulations, and biofilm development and elimination upon exposure to photoreactive 2D nanomaterials under light exposure. The research project will also develop a mechanistic understanding of the photoreactive 2D nanomaterials with biofilms and will determine whether chemical reactions or biological regulations controls biofilm behaviors. In addition, this research will also provide insights into the complex natural aquatic environment and the attendant transformation of photoreactive nanomaterials and subsequent impacts on biological systems. The project will provide training to students in science and engineering areas, and offer them hands-on research experience in nanotechnology, biological engineering, environmental engineering, and microbiology. The project will also introduce students from underrepresented groups and students from diverse backgrounds and educational levels to cutting-edge science and engineering research. Moreover, the project will disseminate the acquired knowledge to help increase the scientific literacy of the general public.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.