The sizing of individual nanoparticles and the recovery of the distributions of sizes from populations of nanoparticles provide valuable information in virology, exosome analysis, air and water quality monitoring, and nanomaterials synthesis. Conventional approaches for nanoparticle sizing include those based on costly or low-throughput laboratory-scale equipment such as transmission electron microscopy or nanoparticle tracking analysis, as well as those approaches that only provide population-averaged quantities, such as dynamic light scattering. Some of these limitations can be overcome using a new family of alternative approaches based on quantitative phase imaging that combines lensfree holographic on-chip microscopy with self-assembled liquid nanolenses. In these approaches, the particles of interest are deposited onto a glass coverslip and the sample is coated with either pure liquid polyethylene glycol (PEG) or aqueous solutions of PEG. Due to surface tension, the PEG self-assembles into nano-scale lenses around the particles of interest. These nanolenses enhance the scattering signatures of the embedded particles such that individual nanoparticles as small as 40 nm are clearly visible in phase images reconstructed from captured holograms. The magnitude of the phase quantitatively corresponds to particle size with an accuracy of +/-11 nm. This family of approaches can individually size more than 10^5 particles in parallel, can handle a large dynamic range of particle sizes (40 nm – 100s of microns), and can accurately size multi-modal distributions of particles. Furthermore, the entire approach has been implemented in a compact and cost-effective device suitable for use in the field or in low-resource settings.
Euan McLeod, "High-throughput nanoparticle sizing using lensfree holographic microscopy and liquid nanolenses
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9718, Quantitative Phase Imaging II, 971823 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 16, 2016; Published: 27 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2211933.4848767836001.
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