Research Unit

Research Unit INTERNANO

DFG FOR 1536

Mobility, aging and functioning of engineered inorganic nanoparticles at the aquatic-terrestrial interface


Engineered inorganic nanoparticles (EINP) are expected to pass the wastewater-river-topsoil-groundwater pathway. Despite their increasing release, the processes governing EINP aging and functioning in the environment are up to now largely unknown.

The objective of the  interdisciplinary research unit INTERNANO is to identify the processes relevant for the fate of EINP and EINP-associated pollutants in the interfacial zone between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The research unit consists of six subprojects:

  • MASK (Schaumann)
  • PORESURFACE (Baumann/Nießner)
  • PORENET (Vogel)
  • IMPACT (Schulz)
  • BIOFILM (Manz)

and combines knowledge from aquatic and terrestrial sciences as well as from microbiology, ecotoxicology, physicochemistry, soil chemistry and soil physics.

For the process identification we will consider compartment specific flow conditions, physicochemistry and biological activity. Situations representative for a floodplain system are simulated using micromodels (μm scale) as well as incubation, soil column and laboratory stream microcosm experiments. The INTERNANO JOINT EXPERIMENT pools experimental methods developed by individual subprojects. These results will be transferred to a joint aquatic-terrestrial model system on EINP aging, transport and functioning across the aquatic-terrestrial transition zone.
EINP isolation and characterization will be carried out and developed in the virtual subproject ANALYSIS, optimizing advanced methods including e.g. atomic force microscopy, Raman microscopy, dynamic light scattering  methods and electron microscopy. INTERNANO generates fundamental aquatic-terrestrial process knowledge, which will help to evaluate the environmental significance of the EINP at aquatic-terrestrial interfaces. It will, therefore, serve as a qualitative basis to predict risks expected from environmental contamination with EINP.