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Postnova Analytics: Simultaneous Detection, Sizing and Chemical Identification of Nanoplastic Mixtures

Hits:85   Date: 10/14/2020
Postnova Analytics has published an application note that describes the novel hyphenation of Centrifugal Field-Flow Fractionation (CF3) with UV, MALS and Raman detection and how it has enabled the simultaneous detection, sizing and chemical identification of polydisperse nanoplastic mixtures. 

The production and use of millions of tons of plastics worldwide has led to uncontrolled release and accumulation of plastic debris all around our planet with yet unpredictable implications. Recent studies have revealed how plastic in the environment undergoes fragmentation even down to nanometric dimensions. Unfortunately, until now suitable methods for the analysis of such small plastic particle sizes are scarce or limited in the scope of what they can offer.


CF2000 centrifugal field-flow fractionation system

Because of the wide range of polymers potentially present in nanoplastics, CF3 is an ideal separation technique as it can fractionate those particles with similar size but different mass or density. Like other field flow fractionation techniques - CF3 can be readily connected in-line with a multitude of powerful detectors. For instance, coupling CF3 with UV-detection enables the quantification of a fractionated sample, and adding Multi Angle Light Scattering (MALS) detection provides additional information about size distribution. 

However, both these detectors, unlike Raman Microscopy, are not able to provide data relating to the chemical nature of a sample fraction. Therefore, in order to add chemical identification capabilities to the CF3-UV-MALS setup, a dedicated Raman flow cell was developed by Postnova Analytics enabling hyphenation with Raman Microscopy (CF3-UV-MALS-Raman) to provide simultaneous detection, sizing and chemical identification of sample fractions.

CF3-Raman fractogram displaying the 812 cm-1 Polymethylmethacrylate and the 1000 cm-1 Raman band indicating an elution order from 350 nm Polystyrene, 550 nm Polystyrene to 500 nm Polymethylmethacrylate highlighting that CF3 primarily separates by mass and not hydrodynamic size
The new application note describes how the performance of the CF3-UV-MALS-Raman setup was evaluated using a mixture of three different nanoplastic particles with varying sizes. In order to get an idea of the chemical identity of each particle fraction, the Raman signal at each individual time interval was monitored using the characteristic Raman band of each polymer under study. Data presented shows the Postnova Analytics CF3-UV-MALS-Raman system, not only offers a powerful multifaceted analytical technique to unlock the secrets of polydisperse nanoplastic mixture, but that the set-up can also be useful for nanomaterial characterization in general.
New Postnova FFF / Raman cell

To download a copy of this application note please visit For further information on the Postnova Analytics CF2000 Centrifugal Field-Flow Fractionation system please or contact Postnova Analytics on +49-8191-985-6880 / +44-1885-475007 / +1-801-521-2004 or
Founded in 1997, Postnova Analytics is the inventor and leading international supplier of Field-Flow Fractionation (FFF) systems for markets including biopharmaceuticals, polymers, materials, nanotechnology and environmental sciences. Leveraging its unique and patented modular FFF - Light Scattering Platform, Postnova has been able to provide high performance solutions to a wide range of applications. Today the company's growing product portfolio also includes Flow FFF, Centrifugal FFF, Thermal FFF, Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC), MALS and DLS.  Postnova ( is located and headquartered in Landsberg am Lech (Germany) and has subsidiaries in the USA, UK and Finland. These offices, in conjunction with a highly qualified and trained distribution network, provide informed local support to customers worldwide.


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