Release and detection of carbon nanotubes from polymer nanocomposites using single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (sp-ICPMS)

D.H. Fairbrother, D. Goodwin, J.F. Ranville, R.B. Reed, K. Marsh, R. Lakone, J.J. Wang
Johns Hopkins University, US

Keywords: carbon nanotubes, polymer nanocomposites, nanoparticle release, single particle ICPMS

Summary:

Most engineered nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) will enter the environment within nanoproducts, such as polymer nanocomposites. Quantifying CNT release rates from nanocomposites is important not only from a life cycle perspective, but also in terms of risk assessment, because release is the precursor to exposure. However, a major challenge is the need to accurately detect and quantify released CNTs under environmentally relevant conditions where CNT concentrations are expected to be at part-per-trillion levels. Due to the ambiguities inherent in detecting CNTs by carbon analysis, particularly in complex environmental matrices, we have begun to explore the possibility of using single particle – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (spICPMS) to detect trace catalytic metal nanoparticles intercalated in the CNT structure as proxies for the nanotubes.