Michael Hochella, a PNNL laboratory fellow and advisor, was featured in a recent podcast by the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
In “Nano-Earth Science: A Conversation with Mike Hochella,” he discusses the importance of studying the Earth from the nano-scale, which is the focus of his 40-year career. A second podcast episode featuring Hochella will post the week of May 11.
Nanoscience and technology make up the interdisciplinary field of understanding and working with ultra-small things. Specialties within it span an enormous range, from building chips used in your smart phone, to determining why soil particles purify groundwater.
“When looking at scientific revolutions that have changed the world, we think of molecular biology, information technology, and nanoscience. Everything from today’s medicine, to electronics, to sensors, to how your car works depend on nanotechnology,” explained Hochella.
Hochella’s work is highly interdisciplinary and involves everything from physics, to chemistry and biology, along with his specific Earth science expertise. This interdisciplinary approach is exemplified in the 2019 paper in the journal Science that focuses on understanding nanomaterials in complex Earth systems.
In the podcast, Hochella discusses establishing and leading the environmental and Earth sciences node of the National Science Foundation-funded National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI). NNCI is a network of 16 nanoscience user facilities throughout the United States. Each has different specialties within the nanotechnology field, along with a very active science and technology community at their affiliated university and partner institutions. “The whole idea is to serve the scientific and engineering communities to do really cutting-edge science, and the absolute latest in nanoscience,” said Hochella.
PNNL is an affiliated partner within the NNCI and the associated university is Virginia Tech, where Hochella holds a joint appointment. This effort, as established by Hochella, is focused on Earth and environmental aspects of nanoscience and technology through diverse facilities, laboratories, instrumentation, and expertise.