First certified reference material for real-world nanoparticle size analysis

The JRC's Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) has developed the world's first certified nanoparticle reference material based on industry-sourced nanoparticles. This new material will help ensure the comparability of measurements worldwide, thereby facilitating trade, ensuring compliance with legislation.

Nanotechnology offers a range of benefits over traditional materials and enables the development of innovative applications and products. However, there are often concerns about the safety aspects and to what extent these have been investigated. High-quality measurements are the basis for reliable safety assessments, process improvement, quality control and the development of new nanotechnology applications.

Until now, however, no certified benchmarks incorporating industrial nanoparticles were available. Some synthetic materials were available, but they were not fully representative for "real-life" measurements.

For this reason, JRC-IRMM has produced the world's first certified reference material based on real-world, industry-sourced nanoparticles. The material (ERM-FD100) consists of silica nanoparticles of a nominal diameter of 20 nanometres (nm). Silica nanoparticles are amongst the most widely used nanoparticles at the moment in products such as polish, whiteners and dispersants.

This material provides the basis for reliable hazard assessments and to check that nanomaterials conform to the internationally accepted definition, as laid down in the respective ISO (International Organization for Standardization) technical specification. It will enable producers of nanoparticles to monitor production quality over time against a stable reference point, and to assess the impact of process improvements. Furthermore, the certified reference material will contribute to establishing market confidence, demonstrating that nanomaterial products meet the customers' technical specifications.

The release of this certified reference material concludes several years of product development, in which the homogeneity and stability of the material were assessed. Particle size was measured in collaboration with 33 laboratories from 11 different countries in Europe, America and Asia, thus bringing together expert knowledge from across the globe. The material was assessed by different measurement techniques and allows producers of nanoparticles (independent from their final use) to test the size of their particles, including batch-to-batch variability and determine whether or not the particles meet the intended production specifications.

Source: Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM)

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