Multi-Element Analysis of Single Nanoparticles

Nanoparticles have unique physicochemical properties compared to their bulk analogs. They are increasingly incorporated into industrial processes and consumer products, including use as additives, drug delivery agents, and catalysts, to name just a few. Advances in nanomaterials have enabled exciting technological and scientific capabilities. However, the safety of nanoparticles still a topic of debate. Reliable analytical techniques and methods are required to gain greater understanding of the behavior of nanoparticles and their potential risks.

Single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (sp- ICP-MS) is already employed as a tool for the rapid analysis of size and number concentration of inorganic nanoparticles at low environmentally relevant concentrations (ng/kg-µg/kg). The icpTOF extends the capabilities of traditional sp-ICP-MS to include multi-element analysis of single nanoparticles, which is critical for characterization of complex systems. The icpTOF is uniquely suited for the detection and quantitative characterization of nanoparticles in unknown or poorly characterized samples. It has, for example, been successfully applied for the identification of engineered nanoparticles in the high background of natural particles based on elemental fingerprinting of individual particles.