Accurate and comprehensive characterization of nanoparticle size is essential to controlling their properties and understanding their potential for new applications. Additional parameters that are fundamental to nanoparticle development, optimization, formulation, toxicology and quality control include shape, zeta potential and aggregation.
Perhaps one of the most versatile sets of nanoparticle characterization tools is based on light scattering, utilizing the three basic flavors of analytical light scattering: multi-angle, dynamic and electrophoretic. These offer determination of size and size distributions, shape or conformation, and propensity for aggregation or flocculation. Auxiliary techniques that enhance and complement light scattering include field-flow fractionation (FFF), which separates nanoparticles according to size prior to analysis, and inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for analysis of elemental composition.