C. Schwaferts, V. Sogne, R. Welz, F. Meier, T. Klein, R. Niessner, M. Elsner & N. P. Ivleva
Analytical Chemistry (2020)
Nanoplastic pollution is an emerging environmental concern, but current analytical approaches are facing limitations in this size range. However, the coupling of nanoparticle separation with chemical characterization bears potential to close this gap. Here, we realize the hyphenation of particle separation/characterization (field-flow fractionation (FFF), UV, and multiangle light scattering) with subsequent chemical identification by online Raman microspectroscopy (RM). The problem of low Raman scattering was overcome by trapping particles with 2D optical tweezers. This setup enabled RM to identify particles of different materials (polymers and inorganic) in the size range from 200 nm to 5 μm, with concentrations in the order of 1 mg/L (109 particles L–1). The hyphenation was realized for asymmetric flow FFF and centrifugal FFF, which separate particles on the basis of different properties. This technique shows potential for application in nanoplastic analysis, as well as many other fields of nanomaterial characterization.