, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 233-244
Date: 20 Jul 2010

Silver nanoparticles in simulated biological media: a study of aggregation, sedimentation, and dissolution

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Nanoparticles, the building blocks of many engineered nanomaterials, can make their way into the environment or into organisms, either accidentally or purposefully. The intent of this study is to provide some insight into the complex environmental, health, and safety issues associated with engineered nanomaterials. In particular, here the state of commercially manufactured silver nanoparticles—i.e., will silver nanoparticles be present as isolated particles, agglomerates, or dissolved ions—in two simulated biological media is explored. Two different commercially manufactured silver nanoparticle samples, one that has been surface modified with a thick polymer coating to render them more water-soluble and the other, with a sub-nanometer surface layer, are studied. The experimental results and the extended DLVO model calculations show that silver nanoparticles have a propensity to settle out in high ionic strength media independent of surface modification. Furthermore, single nanoparticles as well as aggregates/agglomerates are present together in these solutions. Silver ion release in these simulated biological buffers with pHs of 4.5 and 7.4 is negligible after 96 h.