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Validation of Single Particle ICP-MS for Routine Measurements of Nanoparticle Size and Number Size Distribution

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-11-25, 00:00 authored by Antonio R. Montoro Bustos, Kavuri P. Purushotham, Antonio Possolo, Natalia Farkas, András E. Vladár, Karen E. Murphy, Michael R. Winchester
Single particle inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (spICP-MS) is an emerging technique capable of simultaneously measuring nanoparticle size and number concentration of metal-containing nanoparticles (NPs) at environmental levels. single particle ICP-MS will become an established measurement method once the metrological quality of the measurement results it produces have been proven incontrovertibly. This Article presents the first validation of spICP-MS capabilities for measuring mean NP size and number size distribution of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). The validation is achieved by (i) calibration based on the consensus value for particle size derived from six different sizing techniques applied to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Reference Material (RM) 8013; (ii) comparison with high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (HR-SEM) used as a reference method, which is linked to the International System of Units (SI) through a calibration standard characterized by the NIST metrological atomic force microscope; and (iii) evaluation of the uncertainty associated with the measurement of the mean particle size to enable comparison of the spICP-MS and HR-SEM methods. After establishing HR-SEM and spICP-MS measurement protocols, both methods were used to characterize commercial AuNP suspensions of three different sizes (30, 60, and 100 nm) with four different coatings and surface charge at pH 7. Single particle ICP-MS measurements (corroborated by HR-SEM) revealed the existence of two distinct subpopulations of particles in the number size distributions for four of the 60 nm commercial suspensions, a fact that was not apparent in the measurement results supplied by the vendor using transmission electron microscopy. This finding illustrates the utility of spICP-MS for routine characterization of commercial AuNP suspensions regardless of size or coating.