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Nanoparticle Characterization

What to measure? is a key question in nanoscience, and it is not straightforward to address as different physicochemical properties define a nanoparticle sample. Most prominent among these properties are size, shape, surface charge, and porosity. methods based on different physical principles probe different aspects, not only of the particles themselves but also of their preparation history and their environment at the time of measurement. Understanding these connections can be of great value for interpreting characterization results and ultimately controlling the nanoparticle structure-function relationship.


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The characterization of nanoparticles deals with the measurement, of the physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles. Nanoparticles measure less than 100 nanometers in at least one of their external dimensions, and are often engineered for their unique properties. Nanoparticles are unlike conventional chemicals in that their chemical composition and concentration are not sufficient metrics for a complete description, because they vary in other physical properties such as size, shape, surface properties, crystallinity, and dispersion state. 

Particle size, concentration and charge are key to assess nano-systems suitability for their application and these parameters allow to optimize the formulation and characterize the finished products as well as asses potential problems of stability.

Different analytical techniques are used to measure the hydrodynamic diameter, the Zeta potential, the concentration of dispersions of sub-micron particles:

  • Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) for particle size measurement
  • Multi-Angle Dynamic Light Scattering (MADLS) for size and concentration analysis
  • Electrophoretic Light Scattering (ELS) for the measurement of zeta potential
  • Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) for size and concentration measurements

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