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Nanomaterial identification of powders: comparing Volume Specific Surface Area, X-Ray Diffraction and Scanning Electron Microscopy methods

Abstract

Nanomaterials in powder form are widely produced and used in numerous applications. Nanomaterial identification is a growing concern for several areas encountering these substances. The current reference criterion of the European Commission (EC) for nanoparticle identification is the number size distribution of the constituent particles. One example of how the latter can be obtained is by Electron Microscopy (EM) method . However, this method is not widely available and is time-consuming to perform and analyse. Alternative methods, such as Volume Specific Surface Area (VSSA), allows also a nanomaterial identification. VSSA is the product of the external specific surface area of the powder by its skeletal density and appears to be adapted more specifically for powders. The techniques required to measure the two parameters used to calculate VSSA are more widely available than EM, but sample preparation can be delicate. Futhermore, deeper evaluation of the reliability of VSSA for nanomaterial classification as well as a more detailed characterization methodology for its implementation and discussion about the relative merits of this method versus EM are still necessary. Here, we determined, through a detailed and operational characterization strategy, the VSSA for seven metal oxides powders (4 TiO2, 1 SiO2, 2 CaCO3) and an activated carbon, all of them being produced at industrial scale. These eight samples covered a range of constituent particle sizes between 10 nm and 18 µm. Equivalent particle sizes determined by VSSA, X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) (another method giving access to an equivalent particle size and integrated in our characterization methodology) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) (reference method) were compared. The results showed that VSSA can robustly identify nanomaterials in the form of powders (-12% mean bias on equivalent particle sizes relative to SEM).

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Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 13 Jul 2018, accepted on 25 Oct 2018 and first published on 26 Oct 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8EN00760H
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    Nanomaterial identification of powders: comparing Volume Specific Surface Area, X-Ray Diffraction and Scanning Electron Microscopy methods

    C. DAZON, O. Witschger, S. Bau, V. Fierro and P. L. LLEWELLYN, Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C8EN00760H

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