The scale and breadth of plastic waste contamination in the environment has presented the need for technologies, measurement science, and standards to properly investigate mechanisms of plastic degradation and assess potential risks. Potential research avenues in this area span a range of chemical characterization and quantification approaches targeting polymer additives, plastic species, and degradation products, among others. This opportunity is focused on the measurement development and subsequent application of mass spectrometry (e.g., pyrolysis-GC-MS, ambient ionization MS, and/or related approaches) and complementary methods for the characterization of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs). Analytical approaches for the measurement of MNPs from complex matrices will take advantage of associated particle separations, physical characterization, and chemical analysis. Projects incorporating machine learning and chemometric approaches are also welcome. We are seeking independent, motivated individuals with backgrounds across the physical, engineering, chemical, and materials science disciplines to contribute to our collaborative, interdisciplinary projects. Opportunities for collaboration with various NIST laboratories, the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST – NanoFab Facility), and external partners exist. We also maintain an array of material and surface characterization instrumentation, including various ambient ionization mass spectrometry (MS) platforms, pyrolysis-GC-MS, LC-MS, secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), capillary electrophoresis, Raman and infrared spectroscopy, multi-detector field flow fractionation (FFF), MALS, DLS, SEM, XPS, and more.
Microplastics; Nanoplastics; Mass spectrometry; Pyrolysis; GC-MS; Materials science; Chemical characterization; Machine learning; Chemometrics