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J Microsc. 2011 Aug;243(2):172-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.2011.03491.x. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

Three-dimensional automated nanoparticle tracking using Mie scattering in an optical microscope.

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Systems Toxicology Unit, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, European Commission DG Joint Research Centre, Italy.


The forward scattering of light in a conventional inverted optical microscope by nanoparticles ranging in diameter from 10 to 50nm has been used to automatically and quantitatively identify and track their location in three-dimensions with a temporal resolution of 200ms. The standard deviation of the location of nominally stationary 50-nm-diameter nanoparticles was found to be about 50nm along the light path and about 5nm in the plane perpendicular to the light path. The method is based on oscillating the microscope objective along the light path using a piezo actuator and acquiring images with the condenser aperture closed to a minimum to enhance the effects of diffraction. Data processing in the time and spatial domains allowed the location of particles to be obtained automatically so that the technique has potential applications both in the processing of nanoparticles and in their use in a variety of fields including nanobiotechnology, pharmaceuticals and food processing where a simple optical microscope maybe preferred for a variety of reasons.

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