10/25/2011 - 23:21

The tendency of nanoparticles to clump together in solution—"agglomeration"—is of great interest because the size of the clusters plays an important role in the behavior of the materials. Toxicity, the persistence of the nanomaterials in the environment, their efficacy as biosensors and, for that matter, the accuracy of experiments to measure these factors, are all known to be affected by agglomeration and cluster size. Recent work* at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a way to measure accurately both the distribution of cluster sizes in a sample and the characteristic light absorption for each size. The latter is important for the application of nanoparticles in biosensors.