Characterization of Silver Nanoparticle Products Using Asymmetric Flow Field Flow Fractionation with a Multidetector Approach - a Comparison to Transmission Electron Microscopy and Batch Dynamic Light Scattering
Due to the already prevalent and increasing use of silver-nanoparticle (Ag-NP) products and the raised concerns in particular for the aquatic environment, analytical techniques for the characterization of such products are of need. However, because Ag-NP products are of different compositions and polydispersities, analysis especially of the size distribution is challenging. In this work, an asymmetric flow field flow fractionation (A4F) multidetector system (UV/vis, light scattering, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry - ICPMS), in combination with a method to distinguish and quantify the particle and dissolved Ag fractions (ICPMS after ultracentrifugation), for the characterization of Ag-NP products with different degrees of polydispersities is presented. For validation and to outline benefits and limitations, results obtained from batch dynamic light scattering (batch-DLS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were compared. With the developed method a comprehensive understanding in terms of dissolved Ag and Ag-NP concentration as well as an element selective, mass- and number particle size distribution (PSD) was obtained. In relation to batch-DLS, the reliability of the data was improved significantly. In comparison to TEM, faster measurement times and the ability to determine the samples directly in dispersions are clearly advantageous. The proposed setup shows potential for a rapid- and reliable characterization method of virtually any polydisperse metallic NP dispersion, many of them available on the market already.