Chemical interactions between nano-ZnO and nano-TiO2 in a natural aqueous medium

Tiezheng Tong, Kaiqi Fang, Sara A. Thomas, John J. Kelly, Kimberly A. Gray*, Jean François Gaillard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The use of diverse engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) potentially leads to the release of multiple ENMs into the environment. However, previous efforts to understand the behavior and the risks associated with ENMs have focused on only one material at a time. In this study, the chemical interactions between two of the most highly used ENMs, nano-TiO2, and nano-ZnO, were examined in a natural water matrix. The fate of nano-ZnO in Lake Michigan water was investigated in the presence of nano-TiO2. Our experiments demonstrate that the combined effects of ZnO dissolution and Zn adsorption onto nano-TiO2 control the concentration of dissolved zinc. X-ray absorption spectroscopy was used to determine the speciation of Zn in the particulate fraction. The spectra show that Zn partitions between nano-ZnO and Zn2+ adsorbed on nano-TiO2. A simple kinetic model is presented to explain the experimental data. It integrates the processes of nano-ZnO dissolution with Zn adsorption onto nano-TiO2 and successfully predicts dissolved Zn concentration in solution. Overall, our results suggest that the fate and toxicity potential of soluble ENMs, such as nano-ZnO, are likely to be influenced by the presence of other stable ENMs, such as nano-TiO2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7924-7932
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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