In situ nanoparticle sizing with zeptomole sensitivity†
We present the basis for an entirely new approach to in situ nanoparticle sizing. Nanoparticles containing just 12 zeptomoles (1 zeptomole = 10−21 moles) of silver, are detected via in situ particle coulometry. These stochastic charge measurements correspond to the transfer of only 7000–8000 electrons, yielding direct information relating to the individual nanoparticle volumes. The resulting particle size distribution (average equivalent radius 5 nm) obtained via nanoparticle coulometry is in excellent correspondence with that attained from TEM analysis. Moreover, the measurable particle size limit by this electrochemical method is shown to be significantly below that of more common optical nanoparticle tracking techniques, and as such can be viewed as a potential disruptive nano-technology.