Investigations of UV photolysis of PVP-capped silver nanoparticles in the presence and absence of dissolved organic carbon

  • Aimee R. Poda
  • Alan J. Kennedy
  • Michael F. CuddyEmail author
  • Anthony J. Bednar
Research Paper


This study investigated the effect of UV irradiation on the characteristics and toxicity of 50 nm (nominal diameter) polyvinylpyrrolidone-capped silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) in the presence and absence of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The photolysis resulted in a decrease in average particle size as measured by field flow fractionation interfaced with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The decrease in size was attributed to the photo-induced oxidation of the PVP and dissolution of metallic silver. Moreover, photolysis of the AgNPs in solutions containing DOC appeared to give rise to small nanoparticles (~5 nm) formed via reduction of dissolved silver ions. These results were consistent with photolysis of AgNO3 solutions initially devoid of nanoparticles. Thus, the carbon-containing constituents of DOC serve as reducing agents for Ag+, primarily under conditions of UV irradiation. The standard zooplankton model, Daphnia magna, indicated that the toxicity of nanosilver was significantly reduced when the AgNPs have been exposed to UV light. Observed toxicity was further reduced when AgNPs in DOC-containing solutions were exposed to UV. These results suggest that environmentally relevant conditions such as DOC and UV light are important mitigating factors that mediate the aquatic toxicity of AgNPs.


Silver nanoparticles Photolysis Daphnia magna Field flow fractionation FFF-ICP-MS Dissolved organic carbon Toxicity Environmental relevance 



The use of trade, product, or firm names in this report is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The tests described and the resulting data presented herein, unless otherwise noted, were obtained from the research conducted under the Environmental Quality Technology Program of the United States Army Corps of Engineers by the USAERDC. Permission was granted by the Chief of Engineers to publish this information. The findings of this report are not to be construed as an official Department of the Army position unless so designated by other authorized documents. The authors also thank Frances Hill and Andrea Scott of the USACE for their editorial comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aimee R. Poda
    • 1
  • Alan J. Kennedy
    • 1
  • Michael F. Cuddy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anthony J. Bednar
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental LaboratoryU.S. Army Engineer Research and Development CenterVicksburgUSA

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