Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

Environmental Molecular Science Institute: Actinides and Heavy Metals in the Environment - The Formation, Stability, and Impact of Nano- and Micro-Particles

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorJeremy Fein
InstitutionUniversity of Notre Dame
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsSome
Class of NanomaterialNatural Nanomaterials
Impact SectorEnvironment
Broad Research Categories Generation, Dispersion, Transformation etc.
NNI identifierc2-1

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$5,521,750.00
Annual Funding$920,291.67
Funding SourceNSF
Funding Mechanism
Funding Sector
Start Year2002
Anticipated End Year2008


The overall goal of the Environmental Molecular Science Institute (EMSI) centered at the Univesity of Notre Dame will be to provide a quantitative, mechanistic, molecular-scale understanding of the factors affecting the formation, stability, and impact of nano- and micro-particles. This EMSI has strong links with collaborators at several National Laboratories (Argonne, Oak Ridge, Sandia) and in industry (DuPont Engineering Technologies). Research conducted at the Instititue will provide a molecular-scale understanding of heavy-metal (Cd, Cu, Pb) and actinide (U, Np) interactions with nano- and micro-particles in the environment. The scientific activities of the Institute will integrate traditional macroscopic and microscopic techniques with state-of-the-art molecular-scale approaches such as x-ray absorption spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, and molecular dynamics modeling. Concurrent with these scientific activities, the Institute will serve as a focus for a range of innovative educational programs with the purpose being: 1) to disseminate state-of-the-art understanding of environmental chemistry to an audience outside of the scientific community; 2) to provide broad, interdisciplinary educational experiences to a large number of undergraduate and graduate environmental molecular science students, and 3) to train students from traditionally underrepresented groups in environmental molecular science. We will set up a M.Sc. program specifically aimed at talented undergraduate students from underrepresented groups whose pre-requisites fall slightly below regular admissions standards. We feel that admission to a M.Sc. program will enable a large fraction of these students to blossom, and these successful students will then continue on in a Ph.D. program, either at University of Notre Dame, or elsewhere. In either case, our Institute will have played a key role in increasing the number of underrepresented minorities working at the highest levels in environmental molecular science.