Research Paper

Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 823-829

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Measuring sub nanometre sizes using dynamic light scattering

  • Michael KaszubaAffiliated withMalvern Instruments Ltd Email author 
  • , David McKnightAffiliated withMalvern Instruments Ltd
  • , Malcolm T. ConnahAffiliated withMalvern Instruments Ltd
  • , Fraser K. McNeil-WatsonAffiliated withMalvern Instruments Ltd
  • , Ulf NobbmannAffiliated withMalvern Instruments Ltd


Dynamic light scattering (DLS) measures time-dependent fluctuations in the scattering intensity arising from particles undergoing random Brownian motion. Diffusion coefficient and particle size information can be obtained from the analysis of these fluctuations. This paper discusses the factors which will influence the lower size limit of DLS and reports the use of sucrose as a test sample to probe this lower limit of the technique. Hydrodynamic diameter values of less than 1 nm are obtained by the use of 173° backscatter detection that is applied to increase the sensitivity of DLS. The peak means (with standard deviations) obtained for the intensity and volume data from a series of sucrose concentrations, ranging from 5 to 35% w/v, were measured as DI,Mean = 0.82 nm (0.11 nm) and DV,Mean = 0.62 nm (0.05 nm), respectively. These sucrose results suggest that sub nanometer measurements are achievable with a precision of 0.1 nm. Evidence to support these size results for sucrose is discussed.


Dynamic light scattering Molecular size Sub nanometer size Lower size limit Lower concentration limit Backscatter detection Instrumentation Nanotechnology