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Home > Press > Zetasizer Nano used to accurately characterize nanoparticles in ecotoxicology study

Associate Professor James F. Ranville, from the Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines, is using a Zetasizer Nano ZS from Malvern Instruments to characterize nanoparticles as part of an ecotoxicology study.

Zetasizer Nano used to accurately characterize nanoparticles in ecotoxicology study

Malvern, UK | Posted on October 20th, 2011

Designed to quantitatively detect, characterize and assess the environmental health and safety of metal and metal oxides such as nanosilver, the study aims to uncover what happens when these nanomaterials are released into environments such as our water supply and stomach fluids following ingestion. By employing the Zetasizer Nano's dynamic light scattering (DLS) capabilities as an online detector for a flow field flow fractionation-Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry system (Fl FFF-DLS-ICP_MS), Assoc Prof Ranville has been able to distinguish between nanoparticles, ions and aggregates in multi-modal (mixed sized) samples.

"It is now standard procedure to use DLS in a batch mode for the initial analysis of nanoparticles," said Assoc Prof Ranville. "The technique is recognized as being limited for mixed size samples. Likewise the Fl FFF method, which separates a sample by size using a hydrodynamic cross-flow generated field, can also produce flawed results. In the normal-mode of FFF operation, small particles elute before larger ones, and dissolved ions elute almost immediately. However, when dealing with nano sized particles, where stability can be an issue, some may become aggregated and reversibly ‘stick' to the membrane during FFF, resulting in a delay in the elution out of the FFF. By coupling DLS with FFF, these limitations can be overcome. As well as delivering highly resolved peak separation following FFF, DLS will also act as verification of the FFF results, distinguishing interacting small species mistakenly identified as large particles."

James F. Ranville describes nanotechnology as an exploding industry with huge growth forecast over next ten years. He believes that we don't yet know enough about the behavior of nanoparticles, and that we require new methods of discovery in order to have a robust means to assess any potential for harm. In particular he highlights the need to assess a material's dose response i.e. the amount required to produce a response in a biological organism, when the nanoparticle contains elements that are considered toxic, for example cadmium containing quantum dots.

As science continues to explore deeper into the realms of nanotechnology and nanomaterials, it becomes necessary for instruments to deliver better, more highly resolved results within these ranges. The Zetasier Nano ZS is part of the Malvern Instruments Zetasizer range and can deliver particle size analysis in the 0.3 nm - 10 µm range, zeta potential in the 3.8 nm - 100 µm range, and molecular weight in the 342 - 2x107 Da range. For further information on the Zetasizer Nano, and other technology from Malvern Instruments, please visit

Malvern, Malvern Instruments and Zetasizer are registered trademarks of Malvern Instruments Ltd


About Malvern Instruments
Malvern Instruments is a market leader in measuring performance controlling material properties. These include particle size, particle shape, zeta potential, molecular weight, size and conformation, rheological properties and chemical identification. Malvern delivers the systems, support and expertise that ensure the analytical integrity and productivity needed to drive research, development and manufacturing.

Malvern’s measurement solutions for scientists, technologists and engineers advance continually through customer collaboration. Complementary materials characterization systems deliver inter-related measurements that reflect the complexities of particulates and disperse systems, nanomaterials and macromolecules. Combining intelligently implemented technologies with in-depth industry applications knowledge and support, Malvern provides customers with the competitive advantage they demand.

Headquartered in Malvern, UK, Malvern Instruments has subsidiary organizations in all major European markets, North America, China, Japan and Korea, a joint venture in India, a global distributor network and applications laboratories around the world.

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For press information, please contact:
Trish Appleton
Kapler Communications
Knowledge Centre
Wyboston Lakes, Great North Road
Wyboston, Bedfordshire, MK44 3BY, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1480 479280
Fax: +44 (0)1480 470343

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Malvern Instruments Inc.
117 Flanders Road
Westborough, MA 01581-1042 USA
Tel: +1 508 768 6400
Fax: +1 508 768 6403

Please send sales enquiries to:
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Malvern Instruments Ltd
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Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 1XZ UK
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