Team Nano

Team nano – Environmental fate and characterization of nanoparticles

 Picture Team Nano


Nanoparticles are emerging pollutants, which have received considerable attention during the last two decades. Indeed, their structural properties make them essentially different from the classical molecular or ionic pollutants. The evaluation of their impact on the environment requires an understanding of the complex interactions between nanoparticles and the components of environmental compartments, mainly inorganic ions, natural organic matter, minerals, and biota. The understanding of these interactions needs the support of physicochemical and biological research on one side, and appropriate analytical methods specially designed for characterizing nanoparticles in environmental media.

The team “nano” investigates the fate of nanoparticles in environmental compartments, in particular, the transfer between water and soil. Important aspects are the aggregation of nanoparticles with natural colloids and microorganisms, which, together with the sorption of natural organic matter, trigger the immobilization of the nanoparticulate contaminants. Due to the complexity of the studied systems, our approach combines classical bench experiments with scaled up mesocosms and field experiments. 

These aims require the development of specialized methodologies for dealing with the complexity of the matrix and the low concentrations of the nanoparticles. In this aspect, our team focused on further developing extractions methods for nanoparticles from soils, chromatographic separation of nanoparticles by size (e.g. hydrodynamic chromatography), and single particle-ICP-MS applications. 

Related projects:

Internano (FOR 1536): Masking and catching mechanisms control mobility, aging and functioning of engineered inorganic nanoparticles at the aquatic-terrestrial interface (DFG research unit).

Sorption of nanoparticles used for enhanced oil recovery on tropical soil (TWAS-DFG cooperation visits programme)

Contact: philippe(at)