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Phillip Wittke Nanotechnology Research Paper April 19, 2014 Nano Silver

Silver (Ag), has been used throughout history for its antibacterial attributes. Silver was known to be used to create containers in many of the major ancient civilizations known to prevent food and water from spoiling. It has also been recorded that people would also place silver coins in their stored water to help keep it potable. According to an article, written by JW Alexander, entitled History of the Medical Use of Silver, Hippocrates used silver in his practices to help heal wounds and fight infections, an Herodotus, the Father of History, accounts that no Persian king, including Cirrus, would not drink water that was not transported in silver containers, which kept the water fresh for years. (Alexander) The first written record of silver being used in medical practices was in the year 980 A.D. when silver filings were used to purify blood. (Alexander) However, today, silver is still being used in medical applications, water purification, and many other functions but much more effectively now due to our new understanding of nanotechnology. However, with these new developments, come new risks that are still being researched and determined, in-spite of its already abundant usage. The focus of this paper, will be on silver nano-materials, and their antimicrobial properties, specifically the benefits of nano silver in the medical industry. Lastly, throughout the paper, I will discuss methods used to create these silver nano particles, ways we measure and observe their properties, and also some health and environmental risks they may pose.

There are essentially two ways to develop nano silver particles. With these different methods or a combination of the two, comes different structures and sizes that the nano silver particles take on, and each of these can have different benefits and limitations in the technology they are being incorporated into. These three categories of nano silver production, are physical, gas, and chemical processes but some may be a combination of all or two of those, and there are still more methods either not commonly used or that are early in their discovery. (Sotiriou) Either way, they are beyond the scope of the time I have to research for this paper. A chemical process that is commonly done is by combining silver nitrate in a citrate solution. This is done by bringing a deionized water and silver nitrate to a boil, and slowly adding the citrate solution until it turns to a grayish yellow, which indicates the reduction of silver ions. (Pillai) The physical reduction processes is commonly preformed by several methods, one is by using the laser discharge method by aiming a laser at a bulk silver substance to discharge another is electrolysis by creating an electrical current, using an arch discharge method that interacts with silver particles to dislodge nano silver particles creating another form of nano silver. (Korbekandi) One method, that utilize both physical and chemical processes, including a new study that uses just pure water, removing the factor of chemical pollution in nano silver production. In this process silver is suspended in pure water, and exposed to an arc-discharge. The nano-scale structures created under these different methods, are examined and studied using electron microscopy, atomic absorption spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction. As well as other conventional nano-scale observational processes such as scanning electron, transmission electron, atomic force, and scanning tunneling microscopy techniques. One of the biggest factors for nano silver being used in medical practices are its antimicrobial properties. These germ fighting attributes occur when silver nano particles are oxidized.

When this happens, they release positive ions (Ag+) which can easily penetrate or attach them*Image from:

selves to the membranes of cells. When these ions penetrate the cells they attach to and react with their DNA to prevent them from reproducing, they may also disrupt other internal functions of the cells or damage the membrane of the cells to cause the bacteria to die, which you can see in the image to the right. (Chapman) The benefit of using nano silver for antibacterial purposes, while some experts disagree, are that bacteria are less likely to develop resistance to them, as they are with antibiotics. With the discovery of the antimicrobial properties, and the increasing research in how to apply them, nano silver is being incorporated into all kinds of medical and non-medical products. Nano-silver is being used in coatings for artificial organ implants, surgical tools, and wound dressings. They are being infused into everything from door knobs to walls and floors, and is even being embedded into clothing. (Chapman) In a study on artificial eye implants containing nano silver, conducted by Informa Health Care Inc., an artificial eye, cultured for 24 hours containing nano silver, was 5 to 6 times more effective in preventing growth of Streptococcus, Staphulococcus, and E-coli viruses. (Yang) Outside of medicine, nano silver antimicrobial properties are already being used in cosmetics, refrigerators, clothing, toothpaste, food packages, and many other consumer products. Nano silver is one of the most commonly used nano materials today. It has many benefits in health, electronics, and other technologies. However, there is a risk in using nano silver in such abundance, especially in these early times of our understanding of nanotechnology and their effects on the human body and our environment. There have been many efforts to deter nano silver usage. These concerns come from the idea that, not only can nano silvers release of ions be

detrimental to bacteria and viruses, it also has the potential to penetrate and harm human cells as well. The concern, especially for infants, is that, due to their size nano particles are easily ingested, made airborne and inhaled, or even absorbed into the body by the skin. Studies on the interaction of silver nano particles on human intestinal cells have shown to lead to the creation of free radicals, and can also change the form of, and the amount of proteins in these cells, which can lead to several serious diseases. However, the amount that must be consumed by a person, to cause problems and make someone sick, was able to be determined. (University of Denmark) Another concern of nanosilver, is its contamination of water. Particularly in sewage water treatment, where the bacteria they use to break down sewage sludge can be rendered ineffective by the nano silver s anti microbial properties. Although, a study conducted by the National Research Programme, has shown that a large portion of nano silver released in waste water would be either retained by the sewage or are transformed into a silver sulfide salt, which releases a greatly reduced amount of ions, and is not so harmful to the bacteria used in sewage treatment. (Schweizerischer)

I have seen many examples of contradictory studies like these. In this regard, I have

Colored micrograph image of fibers from a

would advise that our use of nano silver should be examined closely, and limited to an extent until we have a better understanding of its effects but this should not hinder our study and

wound dressing impregnatuse of their materials when it is most beneficial. The uses in

ed with nanosilver.
hospitals, and the care of patients that we have discovered should be utilized to their fullest potential, especially if it helps prevent the spread of infections in hospitals (the #1 cause of
Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source

death in hospitals). However, my argument is with the ignorant over-use in commercial products, such as infants clothing, odor fighting socks, and other products that are using nano silver, in a

TEM image of Silver Nanoparticles in powder form.

Image from

relatively un-restricted amount, some basically for marketing reasons with nano silver particles that were not prepared in a way that makes them effective, should be limited. The EPA is currently running many studies on the use of nano particles, many of which have already been deemed safe but until a conclusion has been met, it would be wise to limit the use of nano silver in such an abundance of applications.

Works Cited:

Alexander, Wesley, J. History of the Medical Use of Silver. Surgical Infections, Vol. 10. 2009. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.. web. 4/3/2014

Chapman, James, Timothy Sullivan, and Fiona Regan. Nanoparticles In Anti-Microbial Materials : Use And Characterisation. Cambridge, U.K.: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 19 Apr. 2014 4NF9fQU41?sid=a5f20775-f738-45e1-87765781f09f0f3c@sessionmgr4004&vid=4&format=EB&ppid=pp_81

Korbekandi, Hassan. Iravani, Siavash. Silver Nanoparticles, The Delivery of Nanoparticles. 2012. InTech. web. 4/4/2014

Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. "Environmental toxicology: Removing nanosilver from wastewater." ScienceDaily, 18 April 2013. web. 4/04/2014

Nanocomposix. Silver Nanoparticles," (product description).no author available. 2014. web. 4/01/2014

Pillai, Zeena. Kamat, Prashant. What Factors Control the Size of Silver Nanoparticles in the Citrate Ion Reduction Method?. 2003. American Chemical Society. web. 4/5/2014

Sotiriou, Georgios. Pratsinis, Sotiris. Engineering nanosilver as an antibacterial, biosensor, and bioimaging material. Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering. 2011. web. 4/3/2104

University of Southern Denmark. More Dangerous Chemicals in Everyday Life. Now Experts Warn Against Nano Silver. Science Daily. 2014. web. 4/4/2014

Yang, Jae Wook, et al. "Antibacterial Properties Of Artificial Eyes Containing Nano-Sized Particle Silver." Informa Healthcare USA, Inc. 77-81. 2011. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. h&AN=59586522