Controlled Evaluation of Silver Nanoparticle Dissolution Using Atomic Force Microscopy

TitleControlled Evaluation of Silver Nanoparticle Dissolution Using Atomic Force Microscopy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsKent, RD, Vikesland, PJ
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Date Published07/2012
ISBN Number0013-936X

Incorporation of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) into an increasing number of consumer products has led to concern over the potential ecological impacts of their unintended release to the environment. Dissolution is an important environmental transformation that affects the form and concentration of AgNPs in natural waters; however, studies on AgNP dissolution kinetics are complicated by nanoparticle aggregation. Herein, nanosphere lithography (NSL) was used to fabricate uniform arrays of AgNPs immobilized on glass substrates. Nanoparticle immobilization enabled controlled evaluation of AgNP dissolution in an air-saturated phosphate buffer (pH 7.0, 25 °C) under variable NaCl concentrations in the absence of aggregation. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to monitor changes in particle morphology and dissolution. Over the first day of exposure to ≥10 mM NaCl, the in-plane AgNP shape changed from triangular to circular, the sidewalls steepened, the in-plane radius decreased by 5–11 nm, and the height increased by 6–12 nm. Subsequently, particle height and in-plane radius decreased at a constant rate over a 2-week period. Dissolution rates varied linearly from 0.4 to 2.2 nm/d over the 10–550 mM NaCl concentration range tested. NaCl-catalyzed dissolution of AgNPs may play an important role in AgNP fate in saline waters and biological media. This study demonstrates the utility of NSL and AFM for the direct investigation of unaggregated AgNP dissolution.