Nanoparticle Tracking in Single-Antiresonant-Element Fiber for High-Precision Size Distribution Analysis of Mono- and Polydisperse Samples
in: Small (2022)
Accurate determination of the size distribution of nanoparticle ensembles remains a challenge in nanotechnology-related applications due to the limitations of established methods. Here, a microstructured fiber-assisted nanoparticle tracking analysis (FaNTA) realization is introduced that breaks existing limitations through the recording of exceptionally long trajectories of rapidly diffusing polydisperse nanoparticles, resulting in excellent sizing precision and unprecedented separation capabilities of bimodal nanoparticle mixtures. An effective-single-mode antiresonant-element fiber allows to efficiently confine nanoparticles in a light-guiding microchannel and individually track them over more than 1000 frames, while aberration-free imaging is experimentally confirmed by cross-correlation analysis. Unique features of the approach are(i) the highly precise determination of the size distribution of mono disperse nanoparticle ensembles (only 7% coefficient of variation) and (ii) the accurate characterization of individual components in a bimodal mixture with very close mean diameters, both experimentally demonstrated for polymer nanospheres. The outstanding performance of the FaNTA realization can bequantified by introducing a new model for the bimodal separation index. SinceFaNTA is applicable to all types of nano-objects down to sub-20 nm diameters,the method will improve the precision standard of mono- and polydispersenanoparticle samples such as nano-plastics or extracellular vesicles.