NSF gives $12M to Rice to study nanotech's impact on health, environment

"Then, CBEN was created as the first center on health and environmental implications funded by NSF under NNI. The creation of the center has symbolic meaning. From the challenge of building the first nanostructures, we have moved into research on societal hopes and concerns, and this in the first year of the national initiative.

"Now, after five years, the center not only has become a reference resource at the national and international levels, but it also defines the field itself, and how science, engineering and society converge."

CBEN's research focus is on the so-called "wet-dry" interface between biology and materials science. For example, the machinery of life inside every living cell exists in a water-based environment. Nanomaterials, on the other hand, are often either insoluble or unable to function efficiently in solution. CBEN's research aims to understand how nanomaterials function in water-based environments such as living organisms and ecosystems.

The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), a multi-stakeholder initiative that grew out of CBEN-led activities, is addressing the potential environmental and health risks of nanotechnology. ICON last year unveiled a nanomaterial-specific Environmental, Health and Safety Database as a free public service.


Contact: Jade Boyd
Rice University

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