The Variable Fate of Ag and TiO2 Nanoparticles in Natural Soil Solutions—Sorption of Organic Matter and Nanoparticle Stability

  • Laura DegenkolbEmail author
  • Martin Kaupenjohann
  • Sondra Klitzke


Engineered nanoparticles (NP) like Ag and TiO2 offer unique properties for various applications. Thus, the entry of the NP in soil environments is expected to increase in the future due to their growing industrial use. To avoid potential hazards due to these anthropogenic products, NP behavior in the environment should be well understood. In natural soil solutions, we investigated NOM adsorption onto Ag and TiO2 NP and its influence on NP colloidal stability. Therefore, we extracted soil solutions from a floodplain soil (Fluvisol) and a farmland soil (Cambisol) differing in NOM quality and inorganic ion concentration. We measured the amount of adsorbed organic carbon as well as changes in aromaticity and molecular weight of NOM upon adsorption onto NP. Additionally, the size and zeta potential of NP in both soil solutions were investigated. We observed that the highly hydrophilic NOM of floodplain soil solution rich in inorganic ions strongly adsorbed to Ag but not to TiO2 NP. Instead, sorption to TiO2 NP was observed for the more hydrophobic NOM of the farmland soil with low ionic strength which did not sorb to Ag NP. These differences had a strong effect on NP stability, leading to Ag NP destabilization in case of floodplain soil solution and TiO2 NP stabilization in the presence of farmland soil solution. Our results point out the necessity of studies in more complex systems and suppose that oxic and metallic NP might show very different fate depending on the environment they are exposed to.


Nanomaterial Soil extract Molecular weight Aromatic compounds Organic coating Ionic strength 



We thank Natascha Volk for her accurate work in the lab realizing many of the batch experiments. Additionally, we want to thank Frederik Büks and George Metreveli for providing the farmland and floodplain soil, respectively. For analyses in the lab, we thank Silke Pabst, Sabine Dumke, and Kotan Yildiz. We are very grateful to Ruth Ellerbrock for the helpful discussions about FT IR spectra.

Funding Information

The authors acknowledge financial support by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the research unit FOR 1536 INTERNANO and its subprojects KA 1139/18-2, LA 1398/9 and KL 2909/1-2.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11270_2019_4123_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (76 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 75 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Degenkolb
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Martin Kaupenjohann
    • 1
  • Sondra Klitzke
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology, Department of Soil SciencesTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Section Drinking Water Treatment and Resource ProtectionGerman Environment AgencyBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Chair of Soil EcologyAlbert-Ludwigs-Universität FreiburgFreiburg i. BrGermany

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