Evaluation of Field Flow Fractionation-ICP-MS and Single Particle-ICP-MS for Nanoparticle Characterization

Oral Presentation

Prepared by R. Jack1, S. McSheehy Ducos2, D. Kutscher2, L. Rottmann2
1 - Thermo Fisher Scientific, 490 Lakeside Dr, Sunnyvale, CA, 94085, United States
2 - Thermo Fisher Scientific, Hanna-Kunath-Stra├če 11, Bremen, 28199, Germany

Contact Information: [email protected]; 408-481-4227


The use of engineered nanoparticles in a variety of industries has significantly increased in recent years. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA is developing analytical methods to evaluate the properties of these nanomaterials to determine possible human health and environmental hazards affiliated with their production and use. A variety of materials are used in the production of nanoparticles and many of them are of interest for study by the EPA. Those materials include: silver, gold, copper, iron, titanium dioxide, cerium oxide and carbon-based materials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes.

Field flow fractionation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (FFF-ICP-MS) and single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (sp-ICP-MS) are emerging methods for detecting and characterizing nanoparticles. Field flow fractionation, a separation technique based on mobility differences for varying particles sizes in a laminar liquid flow, is applicable to particle sizes ranging from nanometer to micrometer sizes.

Single particle analysis allows for characterization of nanoparticles containing a single element via direct analysis without prior separation. Utilizing this approach, single particle analysis produces transient mass spectrum signals. The magnitude and frequency of the transient signals produced are directly proportional to the size and concentration of nanoparticles, respectively.

In the work presented here, FFF-ICP-MS was employed to separate and quantify a solution containing Au nanoparticles with 30 nm and 60 nm diameters. Single particle ICP-MS was used to characterize and quantify a solution containing Ag nanoparticles with 20 nm, 40 nm, 60 nm and 100 nm diameters. After successful proof of concept, the sp-ICP-MS method was applied to the characterization and determination of Ag nanoparticles present in a locally sourced tap water sample.