Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are widely used in industrial and medical applications. They are known to form naturally during the weathering of Au-bearing mineral deposits, as well as the transformation of gold nuggets and particles. In freshwater systems, they bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms, as shown on test fish species such as zebrafish and guppy.
Several techniques are available to determine gold concentrations in samples – however, few methods have been developed to characterize the size fractions of nanoparticulate gold in complex organic materials. This work is a feasibility study to measure AuNPs in complex organic matrices using Single Particle ICP-MS, as may be applied to environmental monitoring or exploration, demonstrating the ability of PerkinElmer’s NexION® ICP-MS Single Particle Analyzer to reliably detect and characterize nanoparticles in soil and aquatic samples.