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Nanoparticles have unique technical characteristics due to their extremely small size (in the order of a few nanometers). Their properties differ from those of large-scale materials due to their large surface area and smaller volume. Nanoparticles are present everywhere and many innovations in various fields are based on these very special compounds. The great difficulty in the process of controlling these elements lies in the wide variety of existing nanoparticles that can differ in shape, size, as well as in chemical composition and physicochemical properties.

The National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS) distinguishes between nanoparticles and nanomaterials. A nanoparticle is a particle whose three dimensions are between 1 and 100 nm.

The INRS defines nanomaterials as "a material with at least one external dimension on the nanometric scale, i.e. between 1 and 100 nm, or with an internal or surface structure on the nanometric scale" (definition found in the ISO TS 80004-1 standard). The European Commission considers a threshold concentration of 50% of nanoparticles to define a nanomaterial.

Even if the definition of nanoparticles is not yet completely settled, all the actors of this field agree to consider the "size" component as the most relevant factor to define these elements.

Nano-objects can be synthesized in different forms, including spheres, tubes, rods, thin films... They can be classified according to their size for each of their dimensions in three distinct categories :

  • nanoparticles, which have their three dimensions in the nanometric range
  • nanotubes, nanowires, nanofibers and nanosticks, which have two nanometric dimensions
  • nanosheets and nanoplatelets, which have only one nanometric dimension

Moreover, nanomaterials can be composed of chemical elements: carbon, polymers, metals, biological molecules... This further diversifies these particular elements.

The properties of nanoparticles can vary depending on the size, shape, surface structure and chemical composition of the particles.

Among the specific properties of nanoparticles can be cited:

  • Their very large specific surface area, which greatly increases their chemical reactivity and catalytic properties.
  • Their unique optical properties, including the ability to absorb or emit light. Metallic nanoparticles such as gold and silver have specific colors due to their optical properties.
  • Their unique electrical and magnetic properties, which allow nanoparticles to be used in applications such as the manufacture of electronic devices, sensors, magnetic materials...

Since the 1990s, the number of industrial sectors using nanoparticles has only increased.

They are used in many different fields, such as: electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, coatings, textiles ... Their applications are just as diverse, they improve the color, texture or smell of our food. They increase the corrosion resistance of certain paints or display antimicrobial or self-cleaning properties of our everyday objects. In make-up or creams, they are used as colorants, thickeners or UV filters.

TESCAN ANALYTICS, expert in materials characterization, assists many manufacturers in the characterization of their nanoparticles.

Distribution in number, chemical composition, physical properties... our laboratory has many analytical solutions as well as expertise to answer your questions concerning your nanoparticles.

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All these problems and many others have been solved by our team. Our complete range of equipment and our expertise allow us to offer you the optimal analytical solution.