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Table 2

Measurement techniques for nanoparticles [40].

Technique Measures Sample Sensitivity Notes
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) Particle size and characterization <1 μg has to be prepared as a thin film and be stable under an electron beam and a high vacuum Down to 1 nm Additions to TEM can provide more information, e.g. Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM). High-Resolution TEM (HRTEM) or in-situ measurements as Environmental TEM
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) Particle size and characterization Sample must be conductive or sputter coated, easier to prepare than TEM sample Down to 1 nm Can be used in-situ as Environmental SEM
Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) Particle size and characterization Samples must adhere to a substrate and be rigid and dispersed on the substrate. The appropriate substrate must be chosen. Air or liquid samples 1 nm to 8 μm A form of Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM). Requires less time and cost than SEM and TEM
Photon Correlation Spectroscopy (PCS) Average particle size and size distribution Sample must be a very dilute suspension 1 nm to 10 μm Based on Dynamic Light Scattering, an extension of the technique is Photon Cross Correlation Spectroscopy (PCCS) for high concentration opaque suspensions giving particle size and stability of nanoparticles
Nanoparticle Surface Area Monitor (NSAM) Human lung-deposited surface area of nanoparticles Aerosol, concentrations 0–10,000 μm2/cm3, temp 10–35 °C Down to 10 nm Similar to an Electrical Aerosol Detector (EAD)
Condensation Particle Counter (CPC) Number of concentrations of particles Aerosol, concentrations 0–100,000 particles/cm3, can be in a flow, higher temps. to 200 °C possible 2.5 to >3000 nm Can be used for a flow, hand held models available
Differential Mobility Analyzer Particle size distribution Aerosol Down to 3 nm Can be combined with other techniques to create Tandem DMA or DMPS
Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) Particle size distribution Aerosol, can be a concentrated sample of 1,000,000–2,400,000 particles/cm3 3–1000 nm Uses an electrostatic classifier and a CPC, can also add DMA
Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) Particle size and size distribution 500 μl suspension, temp 5–50 °C, wide range of solvents can be used 10–1000 nm Use with DLS or PCS
X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) Average particle for a bulk sample Larger crystalline samples (>1 mg) required Down to 1 nm Can identify individual crystals
Aerosol Time of Flight Mass Spectroscopy Particle size composition Aerosol 100–3000 nm The efficiency of this method is less for smaller particles
Aerosol Particle Mass Analyzer (APM) Particle mass Aerosol sample with particle density approx. 1 g/cm3 Equivalent to 30–580 nm Gives only mass information and is not dependent on particle size or shape

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