A life cycle framework for the investigation of environmentally benign nanoparticles and products

Thomas L. Theis, Bhavik R. Bakshi, Delcie Durham, Vasilis M. Fthenakis, Timothy G. Gutowski, Jacqueline A. Isaacs, Thomas Seager, Mark R. Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


While significant advances in our understanding of the behavior of engineered nanoparticles in the environment continue, there remains a need to engage the nanoparticle research community directly in the development and evaluation of environmentally benign nanoparticles to ensure that nanomaterial-based industries emerge as tools for sustainability rather than environmental liabilities. Current research efforts aimed at understanding the environmental implications of nanotechnology emphasize existing groups of nanoparticles and products already in commercial distribution. While this is clearly necessary, this approach fails to identify and address the many tradeoffs associated with product performance and environmental quality. We believe this to be a critical gap in the ongoing exploration of nanostructured materials and their properties and applications. We posit that a number of issues are not being holistically addressed, including resource availability and allocation, manufacturing energy requirements and embodied energy, material efficiency, environmental properties of nanomaterials and nanoproducts, and waste generation. An interdisciplinary approach to research, based on the life cycle paradigm and devoted to the identification, investigation, synthesis, testing, and analysis of groups of new, more environmentally conscious nanoparticles is needed. (

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-317
Number of pages6
JournalPhysica Status Solidi - Rapid Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Environmental quality
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanoproducts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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