Impact of particle size, oxidation state and capping agent of different cerium dioxide nanoparticles on the phosphate-induced transformations at different pH and concentration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Isabella Römer
  • Yadira Arroyo Rojas Dasilva
  • Vanessa Trouillet
  • Richard E Palmer

External organisations

  • School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Electron Microscopy Center, Dübendorf, Switzerland.
  • Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • Institute for Applied Materials (IAM) and Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility (KNMF), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany.
  • College of Engineering, Swansea University, Bay Campus, Fabian Way, Swansea, United Kingdom.


The potential hazard posed by nanomaterials can be significantly influenced by transformations which these materials undergo during their lifecycle, from manufacturing through to disposal. The transformations may depend on the nanomaterials' own physicochemical properties as well as the environment they are exposed to. This study focuses on the mechanisms of transformation of cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2 NPs) in laboratory experiments which simulate potential scenarios in which the NPs are exposed to phosphate-bearing media. We have experimented with the transformation of four different kinds of CeO2 NPs, in order to investigate the effects of nanoparticle size, capping agent (three were uncapped and one was PVP capped) and oxidation state (two consisted mostly of Ce4+ and two were a mix of Ce3+/Ce4+). They were exposed to a reaction solution containing KH2PO4, citric acid and ascorbic acid at pH values of 2.3, 5.5 and 12.3, and concentrations of 1mM and 5mM. The transformations were followed by UV-vis, zeta potential and XRD measurements, which were taken after 7 and 21 days, and by transmission electron microscopy after 21 days. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was measured at 5mM concentration after 21 days for some samples. Results show that for pH 5 and 5mM phosphate concentration, CePO4 NPs were formed. Nanoparticles that were mostly Ce4+ did not dissolve at 1mM reagent concentration, and did not produce CePO4 NPs. When PVP was present as a capping agent it proved to be an extra reducing agent, and CePO4 was found under all conditions used. This is the first paper where the transformation of CeO2 NPs in the presence of phosphate has been studied for particles with different size, shapes and capping agents, in a range of different conditions and using many different characterisation methods.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0217483
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2019