NRC Research and Fellowship Programs
Fellowships Office
Policy and Global Affairs

Participating Agencies

RAP opportunity at National Institute of Standards and Technology     NIST

Chemical and Physical Metrology for Micro- and Nanoplastics


Material Measurement Laboratory, Materials Measurement Science Division

opportunity location
50.64.31.C0293 Gaithersburg, MD

NIST only participates in the February and August reviews.


name email phone
Justin M. Gorham 301.975.5944
Vincent A. Hackley 301.975.5790
Diana L. Ortiz-Montalvo 301-975-2019


Roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans annually.[1] This waste degrades over time resulting in persistent microscopic and nanoscale particles that can enter the food chain. There is a growing public awareness of the potential risks associated with these materials and an increasing focus on assessing this risk and understanding mechanisms of degradation. This research opportunity addresses the complex and challenging issue of isolating and analyzing micro- and nanoplastics of diverse origin using novel analytical approaches.  Specifically, this research will focus on (1) development of laboratory methods to produce controlled-size micro- and nanoplastics; (2) development of field-flow fractionation methods combined with multi-detector online characterization to isolate subpopulations; (3) development of surface chemical and chromatographic approaches to separate subpopulations based on composition; (4) development of surface/near surface chemical analysis methods to differentiate material origins and to evaluate the degradation process; (5) development of methods to detect and analyze surface adsorbed species on micro- and nanoplastics under various exposure scenarios. Advanced facilities for fractionation (multi-detector FFF), physical characterization (MALS, DLS, TEM, SEM, AFM) and bulk/surface chemical analysis (EDX, XPS, SIMS, ATR-FTIR) are available to support this research. Additional techniques may be accessible as required.

[1] “All-consuming plastic,” A. Scott, Chemical and Engineering News, 4 Feb 2019, pp. 28-33

key words
nanoplastics; microplastics; metrology; separation; field flow fractionation; surface chemistry; x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy; secondary ion mass spectrometry; attenuated total reflectance FTIR


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$82,764.00 $3,000.00
Copyright © 2024. National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.Terms of Use and Privacy Policy