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Article

Automation and Standardization—A Coupled Approach towards Reproducible Sample Preparation Protocols for Nanomaterial Analysis

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Division 6.1, Federal Institute for Material Testing and Research (BAM), Unter den Eichen 44-46, 12203 Berlin, Germany
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Department of Chemical & Product Safety, German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Max-Dohrn-Strasse 8-10, 10589 Berlin, Germany
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Postnova Analytics GmbH, Rankine-Strasse 1, 86899 Landsberg, Germany
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Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM), Bahnhofstrasse 1, 7302 Landquart, Switzerland
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Vitrocell Systems GmbH, Fabrik Sonntag 3, 78193 Waldkirch, Germany
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Department of Chemistry, College of Natural Sciences, Hanyang University, Seoul 04763, Korea
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Institute of Next Generation Material Design, Hanyang University, Seoul 04673, Korea
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Wageningen Food Safety Research, Wageningen University & Research, Akkermaalsbos 2, 6708 WB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Hristiyan Aleksandrov
Molecules 2022, 27(3), 985; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27030985
Received: 31 December 2021 / Revised: 23 January 2022 / Accepted: 25 January 2022 / Published: 1 February 2022
Whereas the characterization of nanomaterials using different analytical techniques is often highly automated and standardized, the sample preparation that precedes it causes a bottleneck in nanomaterial analysis as it is performed manually. Usually, this pretreatment depends on the skills and experience of the analysts. Furthermore, adequate reporting of the sample preparation is often missing. In this overview, some solutions for techniques widely used in nano-analytics to overcome this problem are discussed. Two examples of sample preparation optimization by automation are presented, which demonstrate that this approach is leading to increased analytical confidence. Our first example is motivated by the need to exclude human bias and focuses on the development of automation in sample introduction. To this end, a robotic system has been developed, which can prepare stable and homogeneous nanomaterial suspensions amenable to a variety of well-established analytical methods, such as dynamic light scattering (DLS), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), field-flow fractionation (FFF) or single-particle inductively coupled mass spectrometry (sp-ICP-MS). Our second example addresses biological samples, such as cells exposed to nanomaterials, which are still challenging for reliable analysis. An air–liquid interface has been developed for the exposure of biological samples to nanomaterial-containing aerosols. The system exposes transmission electron microscopy (TEM) grids under reproducible conditions, whilst also allowing characterization of aerosol composition with mass spectrometry. Such an approach enables correlative measurements combining biological with physicochemical analysis. These case studies demonstrate that standardization and automation of sample preparation setups, combined with appropriate measurement processes and data reduction are crucial steps towards more reliable and reproducible data. View Full-Text
Keywords: sample preparation; automation; nanomaterial analysis; standardization sample preparation; automation; nanomaterial analysis; standardization
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MDPI and ACS Style

Radnik, J.; Hodoroaba, V.-D.; Jungnickel, H.; Tentschert, J.; Luch, A.; Sogne, V.; Meier, F.; Burr, L.; Schmid, D.; Schlager, C.; Yoon, T.H.; Peters, R.; Briffa, S.M.; Valsami-Jones, E. Automation and Standardization—A Coupled Approach towards Reproducible Sample Preparation Protocols for Nanomaterial Analysis. Molecules 2022, 27, 985. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27030985

AMA Style

Radnik J, Hodoroaba V-D, Jungnickel H, Tentschert J, Luch A, Sogne V, Meier F, Burr L, Schmid D, Schlager C, Yoon TH, Peters R, Briffa SM, Valsami-Jones E. Automation and Standardization—A Coupled Approach towards Reproducible Sample Preparation Protocols for Nanomaterial Analysis. Molecules. 2022; 27(3):985. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27030985

Chicago/Turabian Style

Radnik, Jörg, Vasile-Dan Hodoroaba, Harald Jungnickel, Jutta Tentschert, Andreas Luch, Vanessa Sogne, Florian Meier, Loïc Burr, David Schmid, Christoph Schlager, Tae Hyun Yoon, Ruud Peters, Sophie M. Briffa, and Eugenia Valsami-Jones. 2022. "Automation and Standardization—A Coupled Approach towards Reproducible Sample Preparation Protocols for Nanomaterial Analysis" Molecules 27, no. 3: 985. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27030985

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