ICP-MS: a powerful technique for quantitative determination of gold nanoparticles without previous dissolving
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A direct and simple inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) method for the determination of gold nanoparticles (AuNP) with different particle sizes ranging from 5 to 20 nm and suspended in aqueous solutions is described. The results show no significant difference compared to the determination of the same AuNPs after digestion, as claimed by the literature. The obtained limit of quantification of the method is 0.15 μg/L Au(III) that corresponds to 4.40 × 109 AuNP/L, considering spherical AuNPs 15 nm sized. Spike recovery experiments have shown that the sample matrix is a significant factor influencing the accuracy of the measurement. Spike recoveries from 93% to 95% are found for AuNP samples prepared in trisodium citrate, while for deionized H2O a spike recovery of around 80% was obtained. The sample preparation mode along with the ICP-MS parameters have been optimized and found to be crucial so as to achieve the required accuracy for the direct quantification of AuNP suspensions. The effect of the nanoparticle size upon the ICP-MS signal also was studied, and only significant differences due to the chemical environment and not to the AuNPs size were found.