As researchers discover new and widespread applications for stimulus-responsive microgels, known as "smart polymers", the Zetasizer Nano system from Malvern Panalytical is fast emerging as their system of choice for particle characterization. As the first commercial instrument to include the hardware and software for combined dynamic, static, and electrophoretic light scattering measurements, the Zetasizer Nano satisfies a unique mix of requirements associated with this rapidly expanding field.
Microgels are particles of cross-linked polymer networks dispersed in a medium, such as water. These polymers, which range from 100 nm to 1 µm in diameter, can undergo rapid, reversible and dramatic phase transitions when triggered by slight environmental variations in temperature, pH or ionic strength. Medical applications for smart polymers range from diagnosis to intelligent distribution of drugs and actuators (such as artificial muscles and valves), while other sectors are benefiting from new technologies for microelectronic sensors and environmentally adaptive clothing.
The Zetasizer Nano series enables the study of very small, weakly scattering particles such as polymers at low concentrations. Its novel arrangement of optics maximises detection of scattered light while maintaining signal quality. The wide range of sample properties available for measurement with the Zetasizer Nano system include, particle size, molecular weight, and zeta potential.
A unique cell chamber means the Zetasizer Nano specifications for sample size and concentration exceed those for any other commercially available dynamic light scattering instrument. The system offers measurement in the size range of 0.6 nm to 6 µm, and a concentration range of 0.1 mg/mL lysozyme to 40% w/v.