Journal of Analytical & Bioanalytical Techniques
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A new analytical approach has been developed for the sensitive detection of colloidal nanoparticles in water, based on
coating of the nanoparticles with a polymer to render them larger in size for better UV light absorption. These polymer-
coated nanoparticles can be separated from the monomer and polymer by capillary electrophoresis due to differences in
their ionic charge, size, and surface functionality. Using silica as model inorganic nanoparticles, controlled polymerization
of 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate increases their UV detection sensitivity by 5-7 folds. A second coating with polydopamine
produces an extra 2-fold increase of the UV detection sensitivity. With both polyhydroxypropyl methacrylate and polydopamine
coatings, a significant total enhancement of 10-14 folds in detection sensitivity is attained. Alternatively, addition of bisphenol
A or polyvinyl alcohol to the polymerization mixture can result in 9-10 fold increase of detection sensitivity due to additional
absorption of the UV detector light. Polystyrene is another coating material being assessed, for silica and other kinds of
nanoparticles. Investigation will soon be underway to determine whether 2.5% ammonium molybdate solution can react
with colloidal silica to form molybdosilicic acid for better CE-UV analysis, in terms of detection sensitivity and separation
efficiency. Thermogravimetric analysis will also be conducted to study the degradation kinetics of various polymer coatings to
help characterize the core nanoparticles.
Edward P C Lai completed his PhD at the University of Florida in 1982. After teaching at Bowling Green State University for two years, he joined the faculty at
Carleton University and promoted to full professor in 1999. He is currently the Associate Dean of Science (Undergraduate Affairs). He has published 120 papers
and 8 editorials in scientific journals.
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