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Characterization of nanomaterials according to EU recommendations, on the example of ZnO nanoparticles

Anna Swiderska - Sroda 1Jacek Wojnarowicz 1Witold Łojkowski 1,2

1. Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of High Pressure Physics (UNIPRESS), Sokolowska 29/37, Warszawa 01-142, Poland
2. Instytut Wysokich Ciśnień PAN (IWC), Sokołowska 29/37, Warszawa 01-142, Poland


After more than twenty years of basic and applied research, nanomaterials and nanotechnologies started to be widely used in commercial products. In the Consumer Products Inventory there are currently listed more than 1300 nano-goods, produced by near 600 companies which are located in 30 countries [1]. One can find nanomaterials in electronic, cosmetics, fabrics, automotive or medical products. Despite such widespread usage, until recently there was not current definition of nanomaterials in the framework of REACH. Only at the end of 2011. European Commission adopted the Recommendation on the definition [2], according to which "Nanomaterial" means: “A natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50 % or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm - 100 nm”. Such definition implies indispensable parameters describing nanomaterials, namely nanoparticles size and their size distribution. However, product requirements or health effects, usually determine other parameters such as: Specific Surface Area, particle shape, surface chemistry. Experience has shown, that characteristic of nanoparticles is a very complex issue due to the fact that a large number of different measurement techniques are available. That's why general standards in the nanoparticle characterization area were not developed till now. Within the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) there are only standards relating to the specific nanoforms, and particular measurement techniques [3, 4]. More general standard is planned to be published only this year [5]. Therefore, nanomaterials are usually characterized according to guides recommended by European Commission [6, 7, 8]. This practice is also used in Laboratory of Nanostructures of Institute of High Pressure Physics. In this article characterization procedure and adequate characteristic parameters are presented on the example of ZnO nanopowder, as a representative nanoparticle material (see Table 1). 

Table 1. Characteristic procedure and obtained results on the example of ZnO nanopowder

1. Measured parameter

2. Measurement technique

3. Result

Morphology visualization


Scanning Electron Microscopy

Agglomerates of single-crystal nanoparticles

Phase composition

X-Ray Diffraction Analysis

Hexagonal ZnO

Specific Surface Area


42 m2/g


Helium Pycnometry

5.1 g/cm3

Average particle  (agglomerate) size

Dispersive Light Scuttering

~ 85 nm

Nanoparticle Tracing Analysis

~ 90 nm


Electrophoretic Light Scattering

34.7 mV





We would like to thanks to the NANOFORCE project:  „Nanotechnology for Chemical Enterprises- how to link scientific knowledge to the business in the Central Europe space”, implemented through the Central Europe Program co-financed by ERDF.




[2] “Commission Recommendations of 18 October 2011 on the definition of nanomaterial” (2011/696/EU)”

[3] “ Use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), ISO/AWI TS 10797.

[4] “Characterization of single-wall carbon nanotubes using thermogravimetric analysis”, ISO/TS 11308:2011.

[5] “Vocabulary- Part 6: Nano-object characterization”, ISO/DTS 80004-6.

[6] “Requirements on measurements for the implementation of the European Commission definition of the term 'nanomaterial”, Linsinger T., Roebben G., Gilliland D., Calzolai  L., Rossi F., Gibson N., Klein C., JRC Reference Report, July 2012.

[7] “Nanomaterials under REACH – Nanosilver as a case study”, Proken M., E. J., et al., RIVM Report, 2009.

[8] “Guidance Manual for the Testing of  Manufactured Nanomaterials: OECD’s Sponsorship Programme; FIRST REVISION”, ENV/JM/MONO(2009)20/REV, 02-Jun-2010.


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Submitted: 2013-06-24 11:46
Revised:   2013-07-20 22:21