Our work

Nanoparticle and particulate research

TNO has extensive expertise in measuring and tracing nanoparticles and particulates in water, solids and air. Particulate matter is the main problem with regard to air quality in the Netherlands. TNO can assess the seriousness of the problem and trace the sources of the substances using advanced measuring instruments. Knowledge of nanotechnology is developing rapidly. TNO is involved in several European research programmes in this field.

AEC has wide experience in the analysis of dust (including particulate matter) as well as particles and nano particles in various matrices, such as powders, suspensions, foods, biological tissues, materials, products and environmental matrices (air, water, soil). Techniques already developed for sample extraction and preparation make it possible to characterise particles in almost any matrix. t AEC has specific knowledge of materials and the environment that enables its experts to interpret results and put them into perspective.

Advanced techniques

AEC has advanced techniques at its disposal. These include:

  • High-resolution scanning electron microscopy combined with X-ray microanalysis (FEG-SEM-EDX). This enables physical and chemical characterisation of particles in samples from 10nm upwards on the basis of particle size, morphological properties and elemental composition. It is even possible to carry out quantitative analyses of particles using image analysis software.
  • Infrared microscopy (FTIR) for visualising and identifying particles
  • High-resolution ICP-MS for quantifying anorganic/metallic particles.
  • Thermal-optical carbon analysis for quantifying carbonaceous particles such as carbon nanotubes.

AEC uses various techniques for sampling particles, including: specific filters for SEM research, impactors and cyclones for collecting certain particle fractions, and passive sampling systems. Customers can submit their own particle samples, but TNO can also assist with sampling.

Wide range of studies

The combination of specialist knowledge and techniques enables TNO to carry out a wide range of studies including exposure studies, inhalation studies, epidemiological studies, emission studies, environmental monitoring, migration studies, solubility tests, toxicity tests, substance/source identification, specification of nanopowders, nanomaterials and nanoproducts, and studies in the context of REACH.
AEC has previously taken part in, and is currently involved in various major Dutch and European studies such as TRAVEL, Transphorm, CANTES and NanoNextNL.


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