Debbie Knight

Posts Tagged ‘nanoparticles’

Clearing the dust…

In lab safety on February 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm

balance

Usually when we weigh out chemicals in the lab, we use a little brush to clean off the balance. But now that we work with nanoparticles, the brush is not the right tool for the job.

Nanoparticles are tiny – in our case, really tiny particles, measuring  one hundred nanometers or less in diameter.  To put their size in perspective, they are roughly the same size range as many viruses, including the common cold virus. They can are much smaller than a bacteria (one hundred to a thousand times smaller). And, in terms of a typical human hair, you would have to line up a thousand or so nanoparticles (each one hundred nanometers in diameter) to span the width of a human hair.

When we weigh nanoparticles, they are like a really fine dust.

And this dust doesn’t really clean up very easily, at least with a brush.

So, we’ve resorted to using small squares of Swiffer Dusters™ dusting cloths.

dusters

And let me tell you, they work great!

And not just for cleaning up nanoparticle “dust.”

It works great for cleaning up standard lab chemicals as well – especially dyes like crystal violet which are notoriously difficult to clean off an analytical balance. I’ve weighed this dye out, thought I’d cleaned the balance thoroughly, only to find I hardly made a dent in cleaning it up.

I can’t believe my lab didn’t discover these little gems earlier!

Swiffer Dusters™ dusting cloths, not just for house cleaning any more.

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Photo of the Week

In photo log on June 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

This vial holds billions if not trillions of  nanoparticles. Amazing that so many tiny particles can be added to water and the solution remains pretty clear.

This property is one reason the food industry is so interested in using nanoparticles in food products  — they can add nutrients without changing the clarity of a beverage, for example.

Just to get an idea of how small these particles are:  these spheres measure a mere 100 nanometers. This means it would take over 1600 trillion of the 100nm particles to fill one square inch cube (a solid cube). That’s a lot of particles.