Characterization of aluminum, aluminum oxide and titanium dioxide nanomaterials using a combination of methods for particle surface and size analysis
The application of appropriate analytical techniques is essential for nanomaterial (NM) characterization. In this study, we compared different analytical techniques for NM analysis. Regarding possible adverse health effects, ionic and particulate NM effects have to be taken into account. As NMs behave quite differently in physiological media, special attention was paid to techniques which are able to determine the biosolubility and complexation behavior of NMs. Representative NMs of similar size were selected: aluminum (Al0) and aluminum oxide (Al2O3), to compare the behavior of metal and metal oxides. In addition, titanium dioxide (TiO2) was investigated. Characterization techniques such as dynamic light scattering (DLS) and nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) were evaluated with respect to their suitability for fast characterization of nanoparticle dispersions regarding a particle's hydrodynamic diameter and size distribution. By application of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in the single particle mode (SP-ICP-MS), individual nanoparticles were quantified and characterized regarding their size. SP-ICP-MS measurements were correlated with the information gained using other characterization techniques, i.e. transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The particle surface as an important descriptor of NMs was analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD). NM impurities and their co-localization with biomolecules were determined by ion beam microscopy (IBM) and confocal Raman microscopy (CRM). We conclude advantages and disadvantages of the different techniques applied and suggest options for their complementation. Thus, this paper may serve as a practical guide to particle characterization techniques.