Current application of capillary electrophoresis in nanomaterial characterisation and its potential to characterise the protein and small molecule corona

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  • AB Sciex UK


Due to the increasing use and production of nanomaterials (NMs), the ability to characterise their physical/chemical properties quickly and reliably has never been so important. Proper characterisation allows a thorough understanding of the material and its stability, and is critical to establishing dose-response curves to ascertain risks to human and environmental health. Traditionally, methods such as Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Field Flow Fractionation (FFF) and Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) have been favoured for size characterisation, due to their wide-availability and well-established protocols. Capillary Electrophoresis (CE) offers a faster and more cost-effective solution for complex dispersions including polydisperse or non-spherical NMs. CE has been used to rapidly separate NMs of varying sizes, shapes, surface modifications and compositions. This review will discuss the literature surrounding the CE separation techniques, detection and NM characteristics used for the analysis of a wide range of NMs. The potential of combining CE with mass spectrometry (CE-MS) will also be explored to further expand the characterisation of NMs, including the layer of biomolecules adsorbed to the surface of NMs in biological or environmental compartments, termed the acquired biomolecule corona. CE offers the opportunity to uncover new/poorly characterised low abundance and polar protein classes due to the high ionisation efficiency of CE-MS. Furthermore, the possibility of using CE-MS to characterise the poorly researched small molecule interactions within the NM corona is discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Article number99
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2018


  • Bio-nano interface, Biomolecules, Capillary electrophoresis, Characterisation, Corona, Mass spectrometry, Nanomaterial, Protein

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