Analytica chimica acta

Species selective preconcentration and quantification of gold nanoparticles using cloud point extraction and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry.

PMID 23312311


The determination of metallic nanoparticles in environmental samples requires sample pretreatment that ideally combines pre-concentration and species selectivity. With cloud point extraction (CPE) using the surfactant Triton X-114 we present a simple and cost effective separation technique that meets both criteria. Effective separation of ionic gold species and Au nanoparticles (Au-NPs) is achieved by using sodium thiosulphate as a complexing agent. The extraction efficiency for Au-NP ranged from 1.01 ± 0.06 (particle size 2 nm) to 0.52 ± 0.16 (particle size 150 nm). An enrichment factor of 80 and a low limit of detection of 5 ng L(-1) is achieved using electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ET-AAS) for quantification. TEM measurements showed that the particle size is not affected by the CPE process. Natural organic matter (NOM) is tolerated up to a concentration of 10 mg L(-1). The precision of the method expressed as the standard deviation of 12 replicates at an Au-NP concentration of 100 ng L(-1) is 9.5%. A relation between particle concentration and the extraction efficiency was not observed. Spiking experiments showed a recovery higher than 91% for environmental water samples.