The intertransformation of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) and ionic silver (Ag(I)) in the environment determines their transport, uptake, and toxicity, demanding methods to simultaneously separate and quantify AgNPs and Ag(I). For the first time, hollow fiber flow field-flow fractionation (HF5) and minicolumn concentration were on-line coupled together with multiple detectors (including UV-vis spectrometry, dynamic light scattering, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) for full spectrum separation, characterization, and quantification of various Ag(I) species (i.e., free Ag(I), weak and strong Ag(I) complexes) and differently sized AgNPs. While HF5 was employed for filtration and fractionation of AgNPs (>2 nm), the minicolumn packed with Amberlite IR120 resin functioned to trap free Ag(I) or weak Ag(I) complexes coming from the radial flow of HF5 together with the strong Ag(I) complexes and tiny AgNPs (<2 nm), which were further discriminated in a second run of focusing by oxidizing >90% of tiny AgNPs to free Ag(I) and trapped in the minicolumn. The excellent performance was verified by the good agreement of the characterization results of AgNPs determined by this method with that by transmission electron microscopy, and the satisfactory recoveries (70.7-108%) for seven Ag species, including Ag(I), the adduct of Ag(I) and cysteine, and five AgNPs with nominal diameters of 1.4 nm, 10 nm, 20 nm, 40 nm, and 60 nm in surface water samples.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry