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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 May 21;47(10):5083-91. doi: 10.1021/es303941e. Epub 2013 May 10.

Sorption of silver nanoparticles to environmental and model surfaces.

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Institute of Environmental Sciences, Department of Environmental and Soil Chemistry, University of Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany.


The fate of engineered nanoparticles in environmental systems is controlled by changes in colloidal stability and their interaction with different environmental surfaces. Little is known about nanoparticle-surface interactions on the basis of sorption isotherms under quasi-equilibrium conditions, although sorption isotherms are a valuable means of studying sorbate-sorbent interactions. We tested the extent to which the sorption of engineered silver nanoparticles (nAg) from stable and unstable suspensions to model (sorbents with specific chemical functional groups) and environmental (plant leaves and sand) surfaces can be described by classical sorption isotherms. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) qualitative and quantitative analyses were also used to assess the morphology and nanomechanical parameters of the covered surfaces. The sorption of nAg from stable suspensions was nonlinear and best described by the Langmuir isotherm. Langmuir coefficients varied with sorbent surface chemistry. For nAg sorption from an unstable suspension, the sorption isotherms did not follow any classical sorption models, suggesting interplay between aggregation and sorption. The validity of the Langmuir isotherm suggests monolayer sorption, which can be explained by the blocking effect due to electrostatic repulsion of individual nanoparticles. In unstable suspensions, aggregates are instead formed in suspension and then sorbed, formed on the surface itself, or formed in both ways.

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