National Nanotechnology Day: Q&A with Dr. Bin Gao

October 8, 2018

Question: How would you describe your research program?

Answer: My research interest mainly lies in environmental and water resources engineering. It spans a broad range of topics in the environmental field, especially with respect to the applications of novel technologies (e.g., nanotechnology and biochar/carbon technology) to improve water quality and environmental sustainability.

Q: What kind of work does your program focus in nanotechnology?

A: My research goal is to develop science-based strategies for best utilizing novel technologies to solve water and environmental problems. The overarching objective is to determine the benefits as well as risks of novel technologies to the environment. To accomplish the overall objective, I have been pursuing three specific objectives:  1) applying nanotechnology and engineered biochar to improve water quality and environmental sustainability; 2) developing high-efficiency and low-cost adsorbents for wastewater treatment and for environmental remediation; and 3) elucidating the environmental fate and transport of emerging contaminants.

Q: Why is nanotechnology important?

A: Nanotechnology has immense potential in many applications to improve quality of life. The potential uses of nanotechnology are wide-ranging and could benefit various fields such as biomedical, energy, military, semiconductor, food and agriculture, and the environment.

Q: What is the impact and/or benefits of nanotechnology?

A: Nanotechnology can provide solutions to many issues in the world to benefit the society. However, it may represent a double-edged sword to the environment. On one hand, it holds the promise of exciting new solutions to pollution problems, especially in regard to end-of-pipe treatment, in-situ remediation, and pollutant monitoring. On the other hand, it may also pose health and contamination risks because it introduces new potential contaminants into the environment

Q: What are your goals for nanotechnology?

A: My research goal is to develop science-based strategies for best utilizing novel technologies to solve water and environmental problems. The overarching objective is to determine the benefits as well as risks of novel technologies to the environment. To accomplish the overall objective, I have been pursuing three specific objectives: 1) applying nanotechnology and engineered biochar to improve water quality and environmental sustainability; 2) developing high-efficiency and low-cost adsorbents for wastewater treatment and for environmental remediation; and 3) elucidating the environmental fate and transport of emerging contaminants.

A graphic displaying the environmental applications of nanotechnology

Figure 1. Environmental applications of nanotechnology

A graphic of displaying environmental impacts of nanotechnology

Figure 2. Environmental impacts of nanotechnology

A graphic displaying how nanotechnology enables engineered biochar to reclaim phosphorous from wastewater as agricultural fertilizer

Figure 3. Nanotechnology enables engineered biochar to reclaim phosphorous from wastewater as agricultural fertilizer

Dr. Bin Gao is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida. Dr. Gao specializes in environmental nanotechnology, biochar, and contaminant fate and transport. See Dr. Gao's full biography and more information on his faculty profile page.