Beauty of science: cucumbers quick on the uptake

22-03-2013

This X-ray image (1.1 x 1.5 mm) of a cross section of the leaf of a cucumber plant shows the uptake of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2, red). These nanoparticles are widely used in sunscreens, disinfectants, gas sensors and solar cells, so it is vital to ensure that exposure to them is safe.

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By studying the speciation and distribution of titanium in cucumber plants exposed to TiO2 nanoparticles using X-ray fluorescence mapping and X-ray absorption spectroscopy at the ID21 beamline, ESRF users from the University of Texas at El Paso found that these nanoparticles can potentially enter the food chain via agricultural products. However, the plants did not show significant signs of toxicity within the exposure time used (Environmental Science and Technology 46 7637).

 

 

 

This article originally appeared in ESRFnews, March 2013. 

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