Nanoparticle suspensions are complex systems and their characterization includes several parameters such as size, concentration in solution, shape, surface charge and chemical composition. To collect this information, an arsenal of techniques is needed. Each technology will have a range of applications but also limitations which need to be kept in mind. Another aspect that needs to be considered is the fact that the characterization methods will provide information either at the ensemble level or at the single nanoparticle level.
So, what are the tools necessary to map the physical and chemical properties of nanoparticle suspensions? Here we have created an overview of nanoparticle characterization methods that could be used. The tools listed in the overview are examples of instruments that could answer the following key questions:
What is the size of my nanoparticles?
Which nanoparticle concentration do I have?
What is the shape of my nanoparticles?
What is the surface charge of my nanoparticles?
What are the bulk and surface chemical compositions of my nanoparticles?
There are several ways to deposit nanoparticles. It is important to look at the application at hand and decide which method is the most suitable. Most of the methods are able to coat the surface but to achieve controlled monolayer deposition requires more sophisticated methods.
Nanoparticle suspensions are complex systems, and understanding their interaction with their environment requires characterization of a broad range of physicochemical properties. Here we present an overview of the key parameters that can be used to profile nanoparticle suspensions.