Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department



Ke, Pu Chun

Committee Member

Rao , Apparao M

Committee Member

Sosolik , Chad E

Committee Member

Ladner , David A


Recent advances in material science and nanotechnology have given rise to a myriad of developments, while in the meantime call for research into the impacts of nanomaterials on the environment and human health. Although considerable progress has been made in the past decade concerning the behavior of nanomaterials in biological systems, such understanding is critically lacking with respect to the fate of nanomaterials in ecosystems.
Accordingly, this dissertation addresses the interactions between nanomaterials and algae--the major constituent of the aquatic food chain (Part I, Chapter two), and exploits the physicochemistry of nanoscaled synthetic dendritic polymers for environmental applications, especially for water purification that is a focused theme of the entire dossier (Part II, Chapters two-five).
This dissertation is organized as follows.
Chapter one presents a general review of the physical/physicochemical properties, characterizations, implications--especially ecological implication, and applications of a host of most produced and studied nanomaterials. In addition, advances in environmental applications of nanomaterials are discussed.
Chapter two examines algal responses to two major types of engineered nanomaterials - quantum dots and polystyrene. Inhibited photosynthetic activities of green algae are observed as a result of the physical adsorption of the nanomaterials.
Chapter three elucidates the physicochemical properties of poly(amidoamine)-tris(hydroxymethyl)amidomethane- and amine-terminated dendrimers towards their applications in water remediation. Here, the capacities and mechanisms of the dendrimers in hosting cationic copper, anionic nitrate, polyaromatic phenanthrene, and the more heterogeneous humic acids are discussed.
Based on the results of Chapter three, Chapter four presents a dendrimer-based novel optical scheme for improving the detection sensitivity and selectivity of environmental pollutants. Specifically, the surface plasmon resonance of a gold nanowire and the high hosting capacity of dendrimers are utilized for enhancing the detection limit of copper down to the nanomolar level.
Chapter five exploits a promising use of dendrimers for the removal of potentially harmful discharged nanoparticles. Here fullerenols are used as a model nanomaterial, and their interactions with dendrimers of two different generations are studied using spectrophotometry and thermodynamics methods.
Chapter six summarizes the key findings in this dissertation and presents future work that is stimulated by this Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) research.