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New Tools for Characterizing Metallic Nanoparticles: AgNPs, A Case Study

González-Fuenzalida, Rodrigo A., Moliner-Martínez, Yolanda, Molins-Legua, Carmen, Parada-Artigues, Vanesa, Verdú-Andrés, Jorge, Campins-Falcó, Pilar
Analytical chemistry 2016 v.88 no.2 pp. 1485-1493
case studies, cationic surfactants, hydrodynamics, hydrophobicity, liquid chromatography, nanogold, nanoparticles, nanosilver, particle size, solid phase microextraction, transmission electron microscopy
Currently, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is the main technique for estimating the sizes of spherical nanoparticles (NPs) and through them, their concentrations. This paper demonstrates for the first time that C18 reversed-phase capillary liquid chromatography (Cap-LC) coupled to diode array detection (DAD) has the potential to estimate mean concentrations of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) and thereby determine their average size. Direct injection of the sample without previous extraction or separation steps is carried out. Only a unique standard with a known AgNP size is needed for the calibration. In a first approach, the new method has been tested over silver nanoparticles, produced using different methods of synthesis, and their water dilutions. Good results were achieved: relative errors ranged up to 5% compared with TEM. Also stability and functionality-related NP properties, as well as nonspherical AgNPs, can be studied using this method. Moreover, by coupling online in-tube solid-phase microextraction (IT-SPME) to Cap-LC-DAD, the effect of the dilution can be studied as particles distribute by polarity in two groups, a distribution that responds to average particle size of not only AgNPs, but also gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). In such a distribution, the average particle size is correlated with the peak area ratio. Additionally, besides higher sensitivity and concentration-dependent signals, IT-SPME-Cap-LC responds to changes in the particle’s hydrodynamic diameter allowing, for instance, the detection of cationic surfactants. Size-exclusion and hydrophobic effects are the mechanisms involved to explain this behavior.