Although few attempts for classification of nanoparticles (NPs) in labscale do exist, the transfer to industrial applications is still challenging. One promising separation method, which is already established for biological molecules, is chromatography. Herein, we study the classification of differently sized gold NPs (AuNPs) by size-exclusion chromatography (SEC). First, we investigated the interactions of AuNPs with potential stationary phases in order to identify a suitable material for the chromatographic process where irreversible NP adhesion is excluded. Then, we demonstrate the high reproducibility of our SEC experiments by multiple sample injections that lead to constant peak areas. In particular, we show the size-dependent elution behavior of AuNP mixtures resulting in bimodal elution peaks, where size separation was confirmed by inline measured UV/Vis spectra. Finally, NP classification results by using a fraction collector are characterized by retention time, mass balances and size-dependent separation efficiencies. The adjustment of the particle size distributions (PSDs) is demonstrated by changing the switching time of the fraction collector. Our study evidences the high potential of SEC for preparative and continuous separation of NPs.
Süß, S., Metzger, C., Damm, C., Segets, D., & Peukert, W. (2018). Quantitative evaluation of nanoparticle classification by size-exclusion chromatography. Powder Technology, 339, 264–272. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2018.08.008