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


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.