Single Particle Mode or Hyphenated ICP-MS? A Discussion of Nanoparticle Analysis in Complex Matrices

Sep 27, 2017

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The presence of nanomaterials (with size range from approximately 1 nm to 100 nm) in food, consumer products, etc. is not new. For the last decade, inorganic nanoparticles have been used as food additives for enhancing color or flavor, for preservation and to facilitate manufacturing processes. Despite their wide use, nanomaterials have posed safety concerns regarding their possible uncontrolled release from the product and the effect this might have on humans and the environment. In view of these potential risks, regulatory and scientific assessment requires an understanding of their physicochemical characteristics within a commercial product. However, there is still a lack of standardized protocols for risk assessment and of validated methods for the characterization of relevant nanomaterials in complex samples. 

In this vein, this presentation will demonstrate the potential use of ICP-MS as a key tool for the characterization of manufactured nanomaterials.  ICP-MS has become the technique of choice for detection and characterization of nanoparticles in solution.  Compared with other techniques, ICP-MS is unique in its ability to provide information on nanoparticle size, size distribution, elemental composition, and number concentration in a single, rapid analysis.  ICP-MS can be used in two different modes for nanoparticle analysis, either in single particle mode for characterization of individual particles, or coupled to a separation technique such as field flow fractionation or capillary electrophoresis for bulk sample characterization.  Both techniques have benefits and limitations, but are complementary when used together.

This presentation will introduce the theory behind nanoparticle analysis both by single particle analysis and by field-flow fractionation-ICP-MS contrasting the benefits and limitations of both.  The following applications of AF4-ICP-MS will be used as examples.

 1) Use of the multi-elemental capability of ICPMS, hyphenated to AF4, to measure simultaneously TiO2 and SiO2 nanoparticles added to food. Such capability has also found potential use for the simultaneous monitoring of Al and Ti in sunscreen spiking experiments designed to study the effect of sample preparation and FFF separation conditions on the particle size distribution in the presence of the complex matrix.

2) Use of the ‘high isotopic selectivity with sufficient sensitivity’ features of the ICP-MS/MS technology for the accurate quantification of nanomaterials (e.g. Si02) in complex matrices through its hyphenation with asymmetric flow FFF (AF4) and isotope dilution calibration. Such developments are invaluable for the development of reference methods and matrix certified reference materials for nanomaterials characterization.




Dr. Susana Cuello Nuñez, Researcher, Health Science & Innovation division, LGC Limited, UK

Steve Wilbur, ICP-MS Software Product Manager, Agilent Technologies


Date and Time:

Live: Wednesday, 27 Sept., 2017 |10 am EDT | 9 am CDT | 1500 BST | 1600 CEST

After the final airing of the webcast 27 Sept., 2017 it will be available on demand until 27 Sept., 2018. 

Sponsor: Agilent Technologies, Inc. 

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