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Nanoscience Solutions for Quantification, Extraction, and Distruction of Micropollutants

Aerosols are prevalent in our environment, and so play an important role in many natural and man-made systems. Their environmental and health hazards make them of particular interest to detect and analyze. Particle-Into-Liquid Sampling for Nanoliter Electrochemical Reactions is a highly tunable and miniaturizable platform for aerosol electroanalysis. 


Clean drinking water is a human right that is under threat. Garbage, much of it plastic, forms entire islands in the ocean. Even more concerning are micropollutants, the garbage we can’t see when we take a sip of water.  Nobel Prizes have been awarded for various ways of building new, cheap materials to withstand the harshest environments; however, this success has produced a new class of toxic chemicals that are almost impossible to break down.


For example, all corners of our country and the entire globe are being affected by micropollutants, the most known of which are polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS). In particular, micropollutants tend to be highly concentrated in industrialized areas and military bases due to their release from manufacturing byproducts and firefighting foams, respectively.  Thus, the ability to detect micropollutants at the earliest onset of pollution is paramount, as is the ability to extract them from the environment for eventual destruction. Our group has demonstrated and advanced the use of molecularly imprinted polymer-based, electrochemical sensors for the detection of a variety of different per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. 


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