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Concept: Titanium dioxide


The nanoparticle industry is expected to become a trillion dollar business in the near future. Therefore, the unintentional introduction of nanoparticles into the environment is increasingly likely. However, currently applied risk-assessment practices require further adaptation to accommodate the intrinsic nature of engineered nanoparticles. Combining a chronic flow-through exposure system with subsequent acute toxicity tests for the standard test organism Daphnia magna, we found that juvenile offspring of adults that were previously exposed to titanium dioxide nanoparticles exhibit a significantly increased sensitivity to titanium dioxide nanoparticles compared with the offspring of unexposed adults, as displayed by lower 96 h-EC(50) values. This observation is particularly remarkable because adults exhibited no differences among treatments in terms of typically assessed endpoints, such as sensitivity, number of offspring, or energy reserves. Hence, the present study suggests that ecotoxicological research requires further development to include the assessment of the environmental risks of nanoparticles for the next and hence not directly exposed generation, which is currently not included in standard test protocols.

Concepts: Environment, Natural environment, Data, Assessment, Titanium dioxide, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Daphnia, Jonathan Frakes


In this work, we report a direct synthesis of vertically aligned ZnO nanowires on fluorine-doped tin oxide-coated substrates using the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method. ZnO nanowires with a length of more than 30 μm were synthesized, and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) based on the as-grown nanowires were fabricated, which showed improvement of the device performance compared to those fabricated using transferred ZnO nanowires. Dependence of the cell performance on nanowire length and annealing temperature was also examined. This synthesis method provided a straightforward, one-step CVD process to grow relatively long ZnO nanowires and avoided subsequent nanowire transfer process, which simplified DSSC fabrication and improved cell performance.

Concepts: Chromosome, Chemical reaction, Nanowire, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Titanium dioxide, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Chemical vapor deposition


Highly efficient room-temperature ultraviolet (UV) luminescence is obtained in heterostructures consisting of 10-nm-thick ultrathin ZnO films grown on Si nanopillars fabricated using self-assembled silver nanoislands as a natural metal nanomask during a subsequent dry etching process. Atomic layer deposition was applied for depositing the ZnO films on the Si nanopillars under an ambient temperature of 200°C. Based on measurements of photoluminescence (PL), an intensive UV emission corresponding to free-exciton recombination (approximately 3.31 eV) was observed with a nearly complete suppression of the defect-associated, broad-range visible emission peak. As compared to the ZnO/Si substrate, the almost five-times-of-magnitude enhancement in the intensity of PL, which peaked around 3.31 eV in the present ultrathin ZnO/Si nanopillars, is presumably attributed to the high surface/volume ratio inherent to the Si nanopillars. This allowed considerably more amount of ZnO material to be grown on the template and led to markedly more efficient intrinsic emission.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Titanium dioxide, Luminescence, Zinc oxide, Sunscreen, Surface-area-to-volume ratio, Intensive and extensive properties, Nanopillar


In this study, zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorod arrays were synthesized using a simple hydrothermal reaction on ZnO seeds/n-silicon substrate. Several parameters were studied, including the heat-treatment temperature to produce ZnO seeds, zinc nitrate concentration, pH of hydrothermal reaction solution, and hydrothermal reaction time. The optimum heat-treatment temperature to produce uniform nanosized ZnO seeds was 400°C. The nanorod dimensions depended on the hydrothermal reaction parameters. The optimum hydrothermal reaction parameters to produce blunt tip-like nanorods (770 nm long and 80 nm in top diameter) were 0.1 M zinc nitrate, pH 7, and 4 h of growth duration. Phase analysis studies showed that all ZnO nanorods exhibited a strong (002) peak. Thus, the ZnO nanorods grew in a c-axis preferred orientation. A strong ultraviolet (UV) emission peak was observed for ZnO nanorods grown under optimized parameters with a low, deep-level emission peak, which indicated high optical property and crystallinity of the nanorods. The produced ZnO nanorods were also tested for their UV-sensing properties. All samples responded to UV light but with different sensing characteristics. Such different responses could be attributed to the high surface-to-volume ratio of the nanorods that correlated with the final ZnO nanorods morphology formed at different synthesis parameters. The sample grown using optimum synthesis parameters showed the highest responsivity of 0.024 A/W for UV light at 375 nm under a 3 V bias.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Acid, Sunlight, Zinc, Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide, Sunscreen, Brass


In this study, the authors report the production of nanocomposite-enhanced phase-change materials (NEPCMs) using the direct-synthesis method by mixing paraffin with alumina (Al2O3), titania (TiO2), silica (SiO2), and zinc oxide (ZnO) as the experimental samples. Al2O3, TiO2, SiO2, and ZnO were dispersed into three concentrations of 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 wt.%. Through heat conduction and differential scanning calorimeter experiments to evaluate the effects of varying concentrations of the nano-additives on the heat conduction performance and thermal storage characteristics of NEPCMs, their feasibility for use in thermal storage was determined. The experimental results demonstrate that TiO2 is more effective than the other additives in enhancing both the heat conduction and thermal storage performance of paraffin for most of the experimental parameters. Furthermore, TiO2 reduces the melting onset temperature and increases the solidification onset temperature of paraffin. This allows the phase-change heat to be applicable to a wider temperature range, and the highest decreased ratio of phase-change heat is only 0.46%, compared to that of paraffin. Therefore, this study demonstrates that TiO2, added to paraffin to form NEPCMs, has significant potential for enhancing the thermal storage characteristics of paraffin.

Concepts: Temperature, Thermodynamics, Oxides, Titanium dioxide, Heat transfer, Zinc oxide, Sunscreen, Common oxide glass components


This work presents a novel white light device. An yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) phosphor-incorporated zinc oxide (ZnO) film is deposited on a slide glass substrate by ultrasonic spray pyrolysis. A nanoflower consisting of a hexagonal nanopetal is formed on the surfaces of the samples, and the sizes of the nanopetal are approximately 200 to 700 nm. Additionally, the nanopetal becomes blunted with an increasing incorporated amount of YAG. As the incorporated amount is 1.5 and 2.5 wt.%, the photoluminescence color of the YAG-incorporated ZnO film is nearly white, possibly contributing to the YAG emission and the band-to-deep level transition in the ZnO film.

Concepts: Aluminium, Zinc, Color, Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide, Yttrium aluminium garnet, Garnet, Yttrium


The prototypical photocatalyst TiO2 exists in different polymorphs, the most common forms are the anatase- and rutile-crystal structures. Generally, anatase is more active than rutile, but no consensus exists to explain this difference. Here we demonstrate that it is the bulk transport of excitons to the surface that contributes to the difference. Utilizing high -quality epitaxial TiO2 films of the two polymorphs we evaluate the photocatalytic activity as a function of TiO2-film thickness. For anatase the activity increases for films up to ~5 nm thick, while rutile films reach their maximum activity for ~2.5 nm films already. This shows that charge carriers excited deeper in the bulk contribute to surface reactions in anatase than in rutile. Furthermore, we measure surface orientation dependent activity on rutile single crystals. The pronounced orientation-dependent activity can also be correlated to anisotropic bulk charge carrier mobility, suggesting general importance of bulk charge diffusion for explaining photocatalytic anisotropies.

Concepts: Particle physics, Orientation, Titanium dioxide, Rutile, Young's modulus, Photocatalysis, Anatase, Charge carrier


A current threat to the marine ecosystem is the high level of solar ultraviolet radiation (UV). Large whales have recently been shown to suffer sun-induced skin damage from continuous UV exposure. Genotoxic consequences of such exposure remain unknown for these long-lived marine species, as does their capacity to counteract UV-induced insults. We show that UV exposure induces mitochondrial DNA damage in the skin of seasonally sympatric fin, sperm, and blue whales and that this damage accumulates with age. However, counteractive molecular mechanisms are markedly different between species. For example, sperm whales, a species that remains for long periods at the sea surface, activate genotoxic stress pathways in response to UV exposure whereas the paler blue whale relies on increased pigmentation as the season progresses. Our study also shows that whales can modulate their responses to fluctuating levels of UV, and that different evolutionary constraints may have shaped their response strategies.

Concepts: DNA, Mutation, Ultraviolet, Sun, Sunlight, Titanium dioxide, Mutagen, Humpback whale


Food-grade titanium dioxide (TiO2) containing a nanoscale particle fraction (TiO2-NPs) is approved as a white pigment (E171 in Europe) in common foodstuffs, including confectionary. There are growing concerns that daily oral TiO2-NP intake is associated with an increased risk of chronic intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis. In rats orally exposed for one week to E171 at human relevant levels, titanium was detected in the immune cells of Peyer’s patches (PP) as observed with the TiO2-NP model NM-105. Dendritic cell frequency increased in PP regardless of the TiO2 treatment, while regulatory T cells involved in dampening inflammatory responses decreased with E171 only, an effect still observed after 100 days of treatment. In all TiO2-treated rats, stimulation of immune cells isolated from PP showed a decrease in Thelper (Th)-1 IFN-γ secretion, while splenic Th1/Th17 inflammatory responses sharply increased. E171 or NM-105 for one week did not initiate intestinal inflammation, while a 100-day E171 treatment promoted colon microinflammation and initiated preneoplastic lesions while also fostering the growth of aberrant crypt foci in a chemically induced carcinogenesis model. These data should be considered for risk assessments of the susceptibility to Th17-driven autoimmune diseases and to colorectal cancer in humans exposed to TiO2 from dietary sources.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Monocyte, Titanium dioxide, Titanium, Rutile, Pigment, Titanium tetrachloride


Bacterial infections are a major threat to the health of patients in healthcare facilities including hospitals. One of the major causes of patient morbidity is infection with Staphylococcus aureus. One of the the most dominant nosocomial bacteria, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have been reported to survive on hospital surfaces (e.g. privacy window glasses) for up to 5 months. None of the current anti-bacterial technology is efficient in eliminating Staphylococcus aureus. A novel transparent, immobilised and superhydrophilic coating of titanium dioxide, co-doped with fluorine and copper has been prepared on float glass substrates. Antibacterial activity has demonstrated (by using Staphylococcus aureus), resulting from a combination of visible light activated (VLA) photocatalysis and copper ion toxicity. Co-doping with copper and fluorine has been shown to improve the performance of the coating, relative to a purely fluorine-doped VLA photocatalyst. Reductions in bacterial population of log10 = 4.2 under visible light irradiation and log10 = 1.8 in darkness have been achieved, compared with log10 = 1.8 under visible light irradiation and no activity, for a purely fluorine-doped titania. Generation of reactive oxygen species from the photocatalytic coatings is the major factor that significantly reduces the bacterial growth on the glass surfaces.

Concepts: Oxygen, Bacteria, Pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Infection, Antibiotic resistance, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Titanium dioxide