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News article10 September 20192 min read

The JRC releases new certified reference material for nanoparticle size and shape analysis (ERM®-FD103)

Micrograph of titanium dioxide nanorods (ERM-FD103) obtained by transmission electron microscopy
© EC, 2019

The JRC of the European Commission (EC) has produced its first Certified Reference Material (CRM) for quality control of measurements of nanoparticle size and shape parameters by electron microscopy.

The CRM (ERM-FD103), which has been developed to support the implementation of the EC nanomaterial definition, consists of titanium dioxide nanorods dispersed in butanol.

Presently, nanomaterials are applied in a variety of products. To provide a common understanding of the term ‘nanomaterial’, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation (2011/696/EU) on the definition of nanomaterial in 2011. A threshold, based on particle size and particle fraction, forms the core of this definition.

Over the last decade, the JRC has produced a set of four CRMs for quality control of nanoparticle size analysis methods. These CRMs, which consist of suspensions of near-spherical silica nanoparticles of different sizes, have become important metrology tools during the development and validation of nanoparticle size analysis methods, and they are a benchmark for ensuring the comparability of particle size results worldwide.

In practice, nanoparticles do not always have a regular (e.g. spherical) shape. Instead, they often have either irregular shapes or peculiar shapes tailored to a particular application or function. The size of simple regularly shaped particles can be readily defined by measuring the length of the particles. On the other hand, the size of non-spherical particles, such as rods, is less defined because each different external dimension yields a different size result.

In supporting the measurement community with metrology tools that enable the further development of methods for size analysis of irregular particles, a next generation CRM of non-spherical nanoparticles has been developed.

ERM-FD103 is JRC’s first reference material that consists of elongated titanium dioxide nanorods and which has been certified for 10 different particle size and shape parameters for electron microscopy.

The release of ERM-FD103 concludes several years of development, characterisation studies and data analysis. The certified particle size and shape values were determined in collaboration with eight laboratories from five different countries in Europe, America, Australia and Asia, thus bringing together expert knowledge from across the globe.

Together with the spherical silica nanoparticle CRMs, ERM-FD103 is now ready to help ensure comparability of nanoparticle size and shape measurement results worldwide, facilitate trade and enhance innovation. Also, it will support the implementation of the EC’s Recommendation on the definition of nanomaterial.

The use of ERM-FD103 aims to ensure comparability of measurement results worldwide. The CRM was processed and certified in accordance with ISO Guides 34 and 35.

Details about material sampling, processing, characterisation and certification are described in the certification report, available together with the certificate in our online catalogue.

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Certified Reference Materials catalogue of the JRC


Publication date
10 September 2019