Workshop to characterize nanoparticles

Written by Anna Wallin Adersjö Published in

How can one characterize and measure nanoparticles to be able to trace them in nature? At the research station in Kristineberg in Sweden, researchers were gathered to a consortium meeting and to attend a workshop on November 16th. Within the Mistra Environmental Nanosafety program they tried on scanning electron microscopy and laser instruments.

– It is important to describe the particles, since the particle size can tell you something about how they will be disseminated in the environment and how they will interact with organisms, said Jonas Hedberg, researcher at Surface- and Corrosion science at KTH.

Mistra Environmental Nanosafety is a research program that aims to develop methods for risk assessment of nanoparticles. Since the development of nanoparticles is so fast, it is not enough to find out whether each subject is hazardous. Instead, it is important to know what characteristics make nanoparticles harmful to humans and to the environment.

During the workshop in Kristineberg, three groups of scientists tried several different methods to characterize nanoparticles, for example a light scattering experiment (DLS, NTA, DCS) and automated scanning electron microscopy with EDS analysis.

– Seeing is believing, you usually say. Through this microscope you can get a lot of information that you can learn from. You image the particles and can see the structure in several dimensions, said Martin Hassellöv, Professor in Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

At the computer screen, more and more detailed pictures of the particles came up. The researchers mostly examined silica nanoparticles (SiO2 ), which are abundant in nature.

– I think the workshop has been very good. You get another understanding when doing things practically, especially for me who doesn’t have a background in chemistry, said Frida Book, PhD student in Biology and Environmental science at the University of Gothenburg.

The silica particles came from AkzoNobel, one of the partners in the Mistra program. Michael Persson, Innovation Manager at AkzoNobel, attended the workshop.

– You need to be humble when it comes to these measurements, since they give you a simplified image of the real world. But the more methods you use, the more certain you can be, he said.

16 Nov 2017

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