Gold nanoparticles, while showing great promise in fields such as electronics, medical imaging and cancer treatment, nonetheless involve a fairly environmentally-unfriendly production process. Typically, they are produced via liquid chemical methods that involve the use of various noxious substances, such as chlorauric acid. As the field of nanotechnology grows, so do concerns over the consequences for the Earth. University of Missouri scientist Kattesh Katti has found a new method for producing gold nanoparticles that does away with almost all of the toxic agents... and replaces them with cinnamon.

In the U Missouri method, nanoparticles were created by combining gold salts and cinnamon, and stirring them together in water. “Cinnamon has phytochemicals; these phytochemicals are effective in performing chemical reactions (referred to as chemical reduction) with gold salts,” Katti explained to Gizmag. “We have discovered that phytochemicals in cinnamon upon chemical reactions with gold salts result in the conversion of gold salt into gold nanoparticles.”

No electricity or toxic agents were required. As a side benefit, the phytochemicals can also be used to destroy or image cancer cells.

“The beauty of this uniquely green process is that there are no toxic chemicals nor trail of toxic waste involved in the entire process,” he added. “As the nanotechnology revolution unfolds, we must address the influence of this emerging technology on our environment. We believe that our green nanotechnology approach has an excellent futuristic value because our approach provides a realistic and sustainable symbiosis between nanotechnology and Mother Nature.”

In 2007, Katti developed another non-toxic gold nanoparticle production process, that involved mixing soybeans with gold salts and water. The water drew one type of phytochemical from the beans, which reduced the gold salts to nanoparticles. A second phytochemical, also from the beans, then caused the nanoparticles to stabilize, and not clump together with their neighbors.

The new research is soon to be published in the journal Pharmaceutical Research.