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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Influence of nanoparticle doping on the colloidal stability and toxicity of copper oxide nanoparticles in synthetic and natural waters.

  • Author(s): Adeleye, Adeyemi S
  • Pokhrel, Suman
  • Mädler, Lutz
  • Keller, Arturo A
  • et al.

Engineered nanoparticles (NPs) are often doped with other elements to improve their functionality and, at times, physical and/or chemical stability. However, the effect of doping on the environmental implications of NPs is not well-understood. We investigated the colloidal stability and effects of CuO NPs doped with Fe (0-10%). Colloidal stability of the Fe-doped CuO NPs in aqueous media, as determined by critical coagulation concentrations of NaCl, decreased with increased Fe-doping. However, decrease in the overall particle density led to slower sedimentation of Fe-doped CuO NPs than would have been predicted from their aggregation behavior. Fe-doping significantly affected CuO dissolution (p < .001), promoting Cu leaching out from the doped NPs due to increased reactivity at neutral pH and increased surface area with Fe-doping. Fe-doping did not increase the toxicity of CuO to a marine phytoplankton, Isochrysis galbana, despite promoting ionic Cu release. Total suspended Cu was dominated by dissolved Cu complexes in seawater and particulate Cu in freshwater. Based on the abundance of different size fractions analyzed in freshwater, the particles detected in water suspension were mostly (≥50%) larger than 200 nm in diameter. However, these large-sized particles are mainly composed of aggregated nanosized particles held together by van der Waals attraction.

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