Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Larsen, Sarah C.

Second Advisor

Grassian, Vicki H.

First Committee Member

Gillan, Edward G.

Second Committee Member

Leddy, Johna

Third Committee Member

Young, Mark A.


Nanoparticles have gained growing attention of the scientific community over the past few decades due to their high potential to be used in diverse industrial applications. Nanoparticles often possess superior characteristics, such as catalytic activity, photochemical activity, and mechanical strength, compared to their bulk counterparts, making them more desirable in different industrial applications. During the past few decades, the use of the nanoparticles in various industries has been increased. With increasing usage release of nanoparticles into the environment has also increased. There is a growing concern about the nanoparticle toxicity and numerous studies have shown the toxic effects of different nanoparticles on various plants, animals, and microorganisms in the environment. Toxicity of nanoparticles is often attributed to their morphology and their ability to undergo different transformations in the environment. These transformations include aggregation, dissolution, and surface adsorption.

Natural organic matter (NOM) are the most abundant natural ligands in the environment which include Humic acid and Fulvic acid. These high molecular weight organic molecules have complex structures and contain many different functional groups such as carboxylic acid groups, hydroxyl, amino and phenolic groups that can interact with the nanoparticle surface. The nature and the intensity of the interaction are dependent on several factors including the size and the surface functionality of nanoparticles and pH of the medium. The smaller the nanoparticle, the higher the adsorption of NOM due to the high surface to volume ratio of smaller particles. Functional groups on the surface dictate the surface charge of the nanoparticles in water depending on the acidity. The higher the acidity, higher the adsorption of NOM due to increased electrostatic attractions between positively charged nanoparticles and the negatively charged NOM molecules. Adsorbed NOM on nanoparticles affect the other transformations such as aggregation and dissolution and can in turn alter the reactivity and toxicity of the nanoparticles. Therefore, effect of NOM is an important factor that should be considered in environmental toxicity related studies of nanoparticles.


Agglomeration, Engineered Nanoparticles, Nanoparticle Transformations, Natural Organic Matter, Surface Adsorption, TiO2


xiv, 92 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 83-92).


Copyright © 2018 Sanjaya Dilantha Jayalath Mudiyanselage

Available for download on Saturday, August 31, 2019

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