ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202003.0189.v1
Subject: Materials Science, Polymers & Plastics Keywords: nanoplastics; nanoparticles; seawater; colloids; static light scattering; dynamic light scattering
Online: 12 March 2020 (02:56:34 CET)
Static (SLS) and dynamic (DLS) light scattering techniques are assessed for their capacity to detect colloidal particles with diameters between d = 0.1 and 0.8 µm at very low concentrations in seawater. The detection limit of the apparatus was determined using model monodisperse spherical polystyrene latex particles with diameters 0.2 µm and 0.5 µm. It is shown that the concentration and size of colloids can be determined down to about 10-6 g/L. Seawater obtained from different locations in western Europe was characterized using light scattering. It was found that seawater filtered through 0.45 µm pore size membrane filters was within the experimental error the same as that of ultrapure Milli-Q water containing the same amount of sea salt and no colloids could be detected with DLS. When the seawater was filtered through 0.8 µm pore size filters, colloidal particles were detected. The measurements show that the concentration of colloids in the seawater samples is not higher than 10-6 g/L and that they have an average diameter of about 0.6 µm. We stress that these particles are not necessarily nanoplastics.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201901.0227.v1
Subject: Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences Keywords: Microplastics, Nanoplastics, Optical Tweezers, Raman Spectroscopy
Online: 22 January 2019 (18:00:37 CET)
Our understanding of the fate and distribution of micro- and nano- plastics in the marine environment and their impact on the biota compartment is limited by the intrinsic difficulties of conventional analytical techniques (light scattering, FT-IR, Raman, optical and electron microscopies) in the detection, quantification and chemical identification of small particles in liquid samples. Here we propose the use of optical tweezers, a technique awarded in 2018 with the Nobel prize, as an analytical tool for the study of micro- and nano- plastics in sea water. In particular, we exploit the combination of optical tweezers with Raman spectroscopy (Raman Tweezers, RTs) to optically trap plastic particles with sizes from tens of µm down to 90 nm and unambiguously reveal their chemical composition. RTs applications are shown on particles made of the most common plastic pollutants, including polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon and polystyrene, that are artificially fragmented and aged directly in seawater. RTs allow us to assess the size and shapes of microparticles (beads, fragments, fibers) and can be applied to investigate particles covered with organic layers. Furthermore, operating at the single particle level, RTs enable unambiguous distinction of plastic particles from marine microorganisms and seawater minerals, overcoming the capacities of standard Raman spectroscopy in liquid, limited to average measurements. Coupled to suitable extraction and concentration protocols, RTs could have a strong impact in the study of the fate of micro and nanoplastics in marine environment, as well as in the understanding of the fragmentation processes on a multi-scale level.