manufacturers of unique nanoparticle characterization technology, is pleased
to report that the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham
is using multiple NanoSight nanoparticle characterization systems to study viruses
and catalyst nanoparticles. Working in the group of Professor Kevin Kendall,
Marie-Curie Research Fellow, Dr Shangfeng Du, says “it's a very good tool
for us to characterize the molecular adhesion and fracture, and interaction
between particles in the research areas of catalysts and the biosciences.”
Dr Du’s research concentrates on the catalyst nanoparticles for fuel
cells. An important emphasis of this effort is on the synthesis of nanoparticle
catalysts of Pt, Ni and base metals, especially to produce new degrees of aggregation
in their structure, characterizing the nanoparticles to define the new structures,
compositions and processes.
For catalyst characterization, knowing the particle size based on number is
very important as it is directly link to the catalytic performance. By knowing
the size distribution of the particles in suspension, information on the molecular
adhesion such as the singlet, doublet, triplet and larger aggregations can be
obtained. This is very useful in the understanding of the processing of dispersions.
Before finding out about NanoSight, the group mainly used electron microscopy
(TEM and SEM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS) to measure particle size and
aggregation. The main benefit of NanoSight’s nanoparticle tracking analysis
(NTA) is that it tracks particles individually making it possible to analyze
small aggregations like doublets or triplets which were not seen by DLS. Moreover,
it can be used to analyze the sample using a very low concentration which is
very difficult by DLS or electron microscopy techniques.
The successes at Birmingham have led to Dr Du saying “I believe we'll
get more achievements in this area.” This work has already been expanded
into the measurement of molecular interactions between nanoparticles and could
have significant application use in a number of fields. One such area is on-line
calibration of virus number concentrations which may be studied simultaneously
with the interactions of viruses with polymer surfaces.