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Hydrophobicity characterization method for nanomaterials

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre developed a method to measure nanomaterials hydrophobicity quickly and reliably.


Patent: WO2016177641

Publication date: 10 November 2016

Fields of use

This technology can be applied in industries involving nanomaterial production, especially within nanomedicine, where hydrophobicity significantly impacts functionalities like protein adsorption, biological membrane interactions, and cellular uptake. It also applies to environmental compliance, as hydrophobicity influences the fate and bioaccumulation of NMs, with regulatory bodies like REACH already setting the stage for mandatory characterization.

Main advantages

  • Fast and efficient: Takes only a few minutes with minimal sample volume required for testing.
  • Ease of use: Samples are simple to prepare and the method can be fully automated.
  • OECD recognition: Adopted as a reference OECD Guideline in 2023, proving its robustness and reliability.
  • Proven and tested: Successfully assessed in real-world environments and validated through an inter-laboratory comparison across 9 labs in 8 countries.
  • Commercially viable: Offers a strong potential for integration into production lines, especially for the pharmaceutical industry, with options for both consumable sales and complete screening devices.

Competitive edge

Compared to other hydrophobicity measurement methods, this technology stands out with its speed, efficiency, automation compatibility, and the comprehensive nature of the data it provides.

hydrophobicity caracterisation methods
Criteria Octan/water Dye absorption Contact angle Chromatography Affinity to collectors
For nanomaterials No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Range (nm) 1 to 2000 1 to 2000 1 to 2000 1 to 2000 10 to 2000
Quantitative No No No Yes Yes
Min. sample qty Few mg 10s of mg 100s of mg 10s of mg few mg
Additional sample preparation No No Yes No No
Reproductibility Good Good Poor Good Good
Assay duration (h) 1 24 2 2 1
Hardware cost (k) 10 10 10 10 to 100 25
Comsumable costs () 1 1 1 100 5
Business potential Low Medium Low Low High
Real-time use on production lines No No No No Yes

Comparison of the JRC developed technology with other methods to determine NMs hydrophobicity.