Editorial Feature

Establishing Nanoparticle Purity with Thermal Analysis

Nanomaterials are a significant and diversified class of materials with use in nearly every major economic sector, including production, health, and power. Every year, the use of synthesized nanoparticles in consumer items grows rapidly. 

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Within industrial production or research laboratories environment, thermo-analytical analyses are frequently used to provide precise data on nanomaterials, such as insinuating material composition and nanoparticle purity, as well as crystallinity and formation kinetics of nanoparticles.

Thermal Analysis of Nanoparticle Purity

Before implementing nanoparticles in any process, the most crucial factor in evaluating is nanoparticle purity. Thermal analysis is an efficient method for assessing the purity of nanoparticles by decomposing the material with little specimen preparation.

Nanoparticle modifications, such as the insertion of surface properties, can also be evaluated between chemical changes. Identifying the chemical constituents of nanoparticles, particularly during production and fabrication, is a key aspect in assessing nanomaterial purity. 

Some nanomaterials are synthesized using solution-based techniques, in which components combine to form the product, with nanoparticles developing as the substance crystallizes. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and physical vapor deposition (PVD) are used to make other nanoparticles.

Some nanoparticle production processes rely on the trapping of other molecules, resulting in nanoparticle production with undetermined contents. In these circumstances, knowing how much of each constituent is present is critical for establishing nanoparticle purity.

TGA can be utilized to determine the final concentration of nanoparticles by examining their constituents (mass percentage of each component). Centrifugation or other strategies must be used to separate the nanoparticle substances from the encapsulating solvent.

Increasing the temperature and comparing the combustion thermal transitions to pure components can reveal its chemical composition. Information about nanoparticle morphology and size may be required to determine total mass loss per nanoparticle using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) or differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). DSC and TGA can be used to determine the purity of synthesized nanomaterials by comparing them to standards.

Utilization of TGA to Investigate Purity of Carbon-Based Nanomaterials

TGA is one of the fastest ways for determining the relative amounts of pure carbon, bonded hydrocarbons, structured carbon, and heterogeneous catalyst particles in a carbon nanotube (CNT) sample material.

Amorphous carbons oxidize at around 200 ° C., single-wall CNTs at 400 ° C., multi-wall CNTs at 600 ° C., and anything above 650 degrees Celsius is due to a solid catalyst and its oxidants.

TGA can offer a measurement of purity for CNT particles by calculating the amount of the material that degrades at a suitable temperature range. TGA is also useful for evaluating the thermal behavior of carbon nanotubes in an oxidizing atmosphere.

Advantages of Thermal Analysis Methods in Establishing Nanoparticle Purity

Thermal analysis offers a variety of benefits that make it a useful complement to other nanomaterials analytical techniques. Nanoparticle sample preparation (i.e., specimen quantity) is typically minimal, and no additional changes such as luminous labeling are required to implement the examination. TGA, DSC, and other colorimetry methods are among the techniques that can be used.

Thermal analysis can be used in industrial settings to investigate the purity of nanoparticles because industrial equipment is accessible and interpretation of the data is often simple. The purity of nanoparticles may be determined rapidly in the lab with little specimen preparation, and the findings can be matched to other analytical techniques for extra assurance.

Thermal techniques can also be used to detect activities that might alter nanoparticle purity, such as when the nanoparticle is subjected to liquid or a biological environment. As more complex synthesis procedures are used, the dynamics of nanoparticle excitons are becoming increasingly essential. Nanoparticle systems, such as nanostructured materials, can have their composition and reaction kinetics compared to their nanoparticle content and purity.

Developments in the Advancement of Nanoparticle Thermal Analysis

One technology that is making development in the implementation of nanomaterial products is nano-calorimetry. Nano-calorimetry is a sensor-based system able to measure samples of nanoliters in volume or milligrams to nanograms in weight with a precision of less than five nW for measuring transition temperature.

Analyses of as-produced specimens and their relationship with the environment, as well as contacts between nanomaterials and organisms, are achievable because of the small sample volumes, which is essential in the field of nanomedicine.

TGA has also made significant progress in terms of delivering nanoscale breakdown information. Microscale TGA can be used to detect CNT deterioration, as well as quantitative investigations of coating on gold and quartz nanoparticles. The data obtained can be linked to traditional TGA or other analytical results.


For the investigation of nanomaterials and applications incorporating nanoparticles, thermal analysis approaches are now extensively used. To make thermal analysis techniques more suited for nanoparticle systems, upgrades should be considered. It is critical to be able to minimize sample sizes, increase susceptibility, and evaluate nanomaterial-matrix interaction. Due to recent improvements in thermos-analytical techniques, nanoparticle evaluation on small scales is now attainable.

Thermal Analysis; A Useful Tool for Nanocomposite Analysis

Reference and Further Reading

Mansfield, E. (2015). Recent advances in thermal analysis of nanoparticles: Methods, models and kinetics. Modeling, Characterization, and Production of Nanomaterials, 167-178. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-78242-228-0.00006-5

Mansfield, E., Tyner, K. M., Poling, C. M., & Blacklock, J. L. (2014). Determination of nanoparticle surface coatings and nanoparticle purity using microscale thermogravimetric analysis. Analytical chemistry86(3), 1478-1484. https://doi.org/10.1021/ac402888v

Mansfield, E., Kar, A., & Hooker, S. A. (2010). Applications of TGA in quality control of SWCNTs. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry396(3), 1071-1077. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-009-3319-2

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Usman Ahmed

Written by

Usman Ahmed

Usman holds a master's degree in Material Science and Engineering from Xian Jiaotong University, China. He worked on various research projects involving Aerospace Materials, Nanocomposite coatings, Solar Cells, and Nano-technology during his studies. He has been working as a freelance Material Engineering consultant since graduating. He has also published high-quality research papers in international journals with a high impact factor. He enjoys reading books, watching movies, and playing football in his spare time.


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