Biological and Chemical Weapon Decontamination by Nanoparticles


Kenneth J. Klabunde Department of Chemistry, Kansas State University

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A great deal of interest has been focused on nanomaterials in the last decade because of their unusual physical, mechanical, and chemical properties. They have found numerous applications, or are expected to find such applications in electronics, catalysis, composite materials, etc. The differences in their chemical properties, in particular, compared with the corresponding bulk material are mostly because of a largely increased surface area and a great increase in the number of active sites on the surface, such as corners, edges, and dislocations. Furthermore, nanomaterials are usually less thermodynamically stable than the corresponding bulk materials, which contributes to their enhanced chemical activity.

Decontamination of chemical and biological warfare is of considerable interest not only for eliminating the hazard of warfare agents on a battlefield, but also in cases of terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, demilitarization of warfare stockpiles, etc. The application of solid materials as decontaminants for both chemical and biological warfare agents has been severely limited by the incomplete and generally slow interaction of solid materials with warfare agents. Nanoparticles with their high surface area, enhanced chemical reactivity, and easy deployment allow the development of new perspectives regarding decontamination. In addition, generally, the products of these decontamination reactions are benign, mineral-like solids.