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Knowledge of nanoparticle transport and retention mechanisms is essential for both the risk assessment and environmental application of engineered nanomaterials. Laser scanning cytometry, an emerging technology, was used for the first time to investigate the transport of fluorescent nanoparticles in a microfluidic flow cell packed with glass beads. The laser scanning cytometer (LSC) was able to provide the spatial distribution of 64 nm fluorescent nanoparticles attached in a domain of 12 mm long and 5 mm wide. After 40 pV of injection at a lower ionic strength condition (3 mM NaCl, pH 7.0), fewer fluorescent nanoparticles were attached to the center of the flow cell, where the pore-scale velocity is relatively higher. After a longer injection period (300 PV), more were attached to the center of the flow cell, and particles were attached to both the upstream and downstream sides of a glass bead. Nanoparticles attached under a higher ionic strength condition (100 mM NaCl, pH 7.0) were found to be mobilized when flushed with DI water. The mobilized particles were later reattached to some favorable sites. The attachment efficiency factor was found to reduce with an increase in flow velocity. However, torque analysis based on the secondary energy minimum could not explain the observed hydrodynamic effect on the attachment efficiency factor.


Ryan May, Simin Akbariyeh, Yusong Li. Pore-scale investigation of nanoparticle transport in saturated porous media using laser scanning cytometry. Environmental science & technology. 2012 Sep 18;46(18):9980-6

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PMID: 22920793

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