Engineered nanomaterials are promising for technological and medical purposes. However, molecular mechanisms of toxicology are less known. This presents a problem and barrier for future innovation and applications as new nanomaterials are developed for healthcare where particles are intentionally introduced into the bio-system. Oxidative stress represents one metric whereby nanomaterials produce oxygen-species via redox reactions. These redox processes involves transfer of electrons to/from the nanoparticle to a donor/acceptor (such as an electrode, or a even a protein). These processes are mediated by multicomponent solutions and the presence of proteins/polymers. Organic and polymer ligands bound or adsorbed to the nanomaterials may enhance or suppress the mechanisms of redox, since ligands may be insulating or conducting, or displayed at the surface with low or high grafting density, or diffuse versus compact.
Our approach focuses on unique optical and neutron scattering methods. We apply static and dynamic light scattering to measure transport properties of dilute nanomaterial solutions. Additionally, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy was developed to measure the transport properties of fluorescently-labeled nanomatials. This enables the measurement of single nanomaterials in multicomponent solutions, complementing DLS. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) is applied to measure the structure of nanoparticles and their complexes with adsorbed surfactants, polymers and proteins. Quartz-crystal microbalance (QCM) approaches are leveraged to characterize the adsorption of nanomaterials to taylored interfaces.