Visualization, Characterization, and Analysis of Gold Nanoparticles Fate and Transport in Aqueous Porous Media Environment with Advanced Photonics Technique
Increased proliferation of nanotechnology has led to concerns regarding its implication to the water environment. Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) were used as a model nanomaterial to investigate the fate and dynamics of nanoparticles in the complex water environment. A column study was performed to examine the fate and transport of gold nanoparticles with two different coatings in porous media. The resulting data suggested that gold nanoparticles aggregate significantly in the porespace of the column interior, a finding that is not predicted by traditional colloidal filtration theory or Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) was developed as a new technique to investigate AuNP aggregation in water with varying salt levels. The SERS technique proved valuable as an analytical technique, elucidating information about aggregation as well as AuNP surface interactions with dissolved halides in water. A thorough investigation examining Aunt aggregation with monovalent and divalent salts utilizing SERS, ultraviolet-visible light (UV-Vis) spectroscopy, and dynamic light scattering (DLS) was conducted. Each technique provided data describing different aspects of the dynamic behavior of AuNPs in complex water environments. Results suggest that in addition to attractive and repulsive interactions described by DLVO theory, chemical interactions between the AuNP surface and dissolved halides were also a significant driving force for aggregation and other transformative behaviors of AuNPs in water. The SERS technique developed in this work was shown to be a viable tool to help unveil the vastly complex dynamics of nanomaterial in the water environment.