The ability to detect and accurately characterize particles is required by many fields of nanotechnology, including materials science, nanotoxicology, and nanomedicine. Among the most relevant physicochemical properties of nanoparticles, size and the related surface-to-volume ratio are fundamental ones. Taylor dispersion combines three independent phenomena to determine particle size: optical extinction, translational diffusion, and sheer-enhanced dispersion of nanoparticles subjected to a steady laminar flow. The interplay of these defines the apparent size. Considering that particles in fact are never truly uniform nor monodisperse, we rigorously address particle polydispersity and calculate the apparent particle size measured by Taylor dispersion analysis. We conducted case studies addressing aqueous suspensions of model particles and large-scale-produced “industrial” particles of both academic and commercial interest of various core materials and sizes, ranging from 15 to 100 nm. A comparison with particle sizes determined by transmission electron microscopy confirms that our approach is model-independent, non-parametric, and of general validity that provides an accurate account of size polydispersity—independently on the shape of the size distribution and without any assumption required a priori.
Nanoparticle Nanoparticle size characterization Nanopowder Polydispersity Taylor dispersion
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The authors are grateful for the financial support of the Adolphe Merkle Foundation and the University of Fribourg. SB, AMM, FC, and BRR acknowledge the financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Centre of Competence in Research Bio-Inspired Materials.
SB and AP-F led the study. SB wrote the manuscript through contributions of the co-authors. SB derived the theoretical approach and analyzed the taylograms. DAU and AM set up the TDA experiments and collected the taylograms. DAU and FC synthesized the Au NPs the SiO2 NPs, and the SPIONs, respectively. TEM micrographs were collected by DAU and were analyzed by DAU and SB. All authors have read and given approval to the final version of the manuscript.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing or financial interest.
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