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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 7(1)

Assessing the colloidal properties of engineered nanoparticles in water: case studies from fullerene C60 nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes

Kai Loon Chen A D, Billy A. Smith B, William P. Ball A, D. Howard Fairbrother B C

A Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218-2686, USA.
B Department of Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218-2686, USA.
C Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218-2686, USA.
D Corresponding author. Email: kailoon.chen@jhu.edu
 
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Environmental context. The fate and bioavailability of engineered nanoparticles in natural aquatic systems are strongly influenced by their ability to remain dispersed in water. Consequently, understanding the colloidal properties of engineered nanoparticles through rigorous characterisation of physicochemical properties and measurements of particle stability will allow for a more accurate prediction of their environmental, health, and safety effects in aquatic systems. This review highlights some important techniques suitable for the assessment of the colloidal properties of engineered nanoparticles and discusses some recent findings obtained by using these techniques on two popular carbon-based nanoparticles, fullerene C60 and multi-walled carbon nanotubes.

Abstract. The colloidal properties of engineered nanoparticles directly affect their use in a wide variety of applications and also control their environmental fate and mobility. The colloidal stability of engineered nanoparticles depends on their physicochemical properties within the given aqueous medium and is ultimately reflected in the particles’ aggregation and deposition behaviour. This review presents some of the key experimental methods that are currently used to probe colloidal properties and quantify engineered nanoparticle stability in water. Case studies from fullerene C60 nanoparticles and multi-walled carbon nanotubes illustrate how the characterisation and measurement methods are used to understand and predict nanoparticle fate in aquatic systems. Consideration of the comparisons between these two classes of carbon-based nanoparticles provides useful insights into some major current knowledge gaps while also revealing clues about needed future developments. Key issues to be resolved relate to the nature of near-range surface forces and the origins of surface charge, particularly for the reportedly unmodified or ‘pure’ carbon-based nanoparticles.

Keywords: aggregation, deposition, DLVO, dynamic light scattering, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.


   
    
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