A uniform measurement expression for cross method comparison of nanoparticle aggregate size distributions

Agnieszka Dudkiewicz, Stephan Wagner, Angela Lehner, Qasim Chaudhry, Stéphane Pietravalle, Karen Tiede, Alistair B. A. Boxall, Guenter Allmaier, Dirk Tiede, Ringo Grombe, Frank von der Kammer, Thilo Hofmann, Kristian Mølhave

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Available measurement methods for nanomaterials are based on very different measurement principles and hence produce different values when used on aggregated nanoparticle dispersions. This paper provides a solution for relating measurements of nanomaterials comprised of nanoparticle aggregates determined by different techniques using a uniform expression of a mass equivalent diameter (MED). The obtained solution is used to transform into MED the size distributions of the same sample of synthetic amorphous silica (nanomaterial comprising aggregated nanoparticles) measured by six different techniques: scanning electron microscopy in both high vacuum (SEM) and liquid cell setup (Wet-SEM); gasphase electrophoretic mobility molecular analyzer (GEMMA); centrifugal liquid sedimentation (CLS); nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA); and asymmetric flow field flow fractionation with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry detection (AF4-ICP-MS). Transformed size distributions are then compared between the methods and conclusions drawn on methods’ measurement accuracy, limits of detection and quantification related to the synthetic amorphous silca’s size. Two out of the six tested methods (GEMMA and AF4-ICP-MS) cross validate the MED distributions between each other, providing a true measurement. The measurement accuracy of other four techniques is shown to be compromised either by the high limit of detection and quantification (CLS, NTA, Wet-SEM) or the sample preparation that is biased by increased retention of smaller nanomaterials (SEM). This study thereby presents a successful and conclusive cross-method comparison of size distribution measurements of aggregated nanomaterials. The authors recommend the uniform MED size expression for application in nanomaterial risk assessment studies and clarifications in current regulations and definitions concerning nanomaterials.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number15
    Pages (from-to)5257-5267
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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