Nanoparticle Applications

Nanotechnology is not an industry, but rather a broad based field of study focused on materials and applications occurring at a very small scale. In general most people accept that nanotechnology deals with structures that are 100 nanometers (nm) or smaller and involves developing materials or devices within that size. Tools such as the SZ-100 Nanoparticle Analyzer utilize dynamic light scattering technology to characterize these materials.

Nanotechnology is extremely diverse, ranging from novel extensions of conventional device physics, to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly and to developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale. Materials reduced to the nanoscale can show different properties compared to what they exhibit on a macroscale, enabling unique applications.

Visit our What is a Nanoparticle page to read about the scope of nanotechnology.

Particle technology intersects nanotechnology when scientists need to determine the particle size distribution and zeta potential (surface chemistry) of materials in the nanoscale. Examples of particles at the nanoscale that have generated interest include (but certainly not limited to):

  • Carbon nanotubes (see Figure 1)
  • Quantum dots (see Figure 2)
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Nanoparticles for drug delivery

Figure 1: Carbon Nanotube Structures

Carbon Nanotube Structures

Figure 2: Quantum Dots Undergoing Fluorescence

Quantum Dots Undergoing Fluorescence

Nanoparticle Sizing Techniques and Instruments

Particle size analysis in the range below 100 nm can be performed using a variety of techniques. Within the HORIBA product line the following systems function on the nanoscale:

Figure 3 shows the size scale from 1 Angstrom to 1 meter along with the dynamic range of each system mentioned above. As you can see, there is overlap in the sub 100 nm range. Each technique and system has specific advantages depending on the application.

Figure 3: Size Range for Nanoparticle Detection

Size Range for Nanoparticle Detection

Below are links to some technical material on characterizing nanomaterials with HORIBA technologies. (You need to be logged in)

AN161 Particle Size Analysis of Cosmetics (includes measuring nanoparticle components)

AN196 Analysis of Biopolymer Nanoparticles and Aggregates

AN194 Particle Size Analysis of Gold Nanoparticles

AN198 Sizing of Silica Nanoparticles with DLS

ADS125 Maltose

ADS126 Antimonous Trioxide

ATM107 Measuring Ludox TM on the LA-950

Fluorescence of Nanoparticles

Photoluminescence (PL) excitation-emission matrix of single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) that can be used to obtain diameter information.
Photoluminescence (PL) excitation-emission matrix of single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) that can be used to obtain diameter information.

HORIBA provides several other analytical systems appropriate for nanotechnology applications including the NanoLog Spectrofluorometer for nanomaterials.

More information on the NanoLog®.

Gold Nanoparticle Standards

Gold Nano-particle Standards

NIST has recently created a series of gold nanoparticles with certified mean diameters. The three new materials (gold spheres nominally 10, 30 and 60 nanometers in diameter) were developed in cooperation with the National Cancer Institute's Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL). RM8011, RM8012 and RM8013 can be purchased from the NIST website and be used to verify the performance of particle size analysis instruments. See NIST Particle Size Standards for a complete list of particle size standards available through NIST.

National Nanotechnology Initiative

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is a government program established in 2001 to coordinate federal nanotechnology research and development.

National Nanotechnology Initiative logo

The goals of the NNI include:

  • Advance a world-class nanotechnology research and development program
  • Foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefit
  • Develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology
  • Support responsible development of nanotechnology

The NNI website provides much useful information for anyone interested in nanotechnology and wishing to learn how the United States is supporting research centers across the country.

Visit the National Nanotechnology Initiative website.

More Information about Nanoparticle Applications

Nanoparticle Size Analyzers

SZ-100 Nanopartica Series Instruments

Industry's widest range and highest precision measurement instrument for Nanoparticle characterization.


The LA-960V2 uses Mie Scattering (laser diffraction) to measure particle size of suspensions or dry powders. The speed and ease-of-use of this technique makes it the popular choice for most applications.