Techniques for physicochemical characterization of nanomaterials

Biotechnol Adv. 2014 Jul-Aug;32(4):711-26. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2013.11.006. Epub 2013 Nov 16.


Advances in nanotechnology have opened up a new era of diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and traumatic injuries. Nanomaterials, including those with potential for clinical applications, possess novel physicochemical properties that have an impact on their physiological interactions, from the molecular level to the systemic level. There is a lack of standardized methodologies or regulatory protocols for detection or characterization of nanomaterials. This review summarizes the techniques that are commonly used to study the size, shape, surface properties, composition, purity and stability of nanomaterials, along with their advantages and disadvantages. At present there are no FDA guidelines that have been developed specifically for nanomaterial based formulations for diagnostic or therapeutic use. There is an urgent need for standardized protocols and procedures for the characterization of nanoparticles, especially those that are intended for use as theranostics.

Keywords: Image contrast agents; Molecular imaging; Nanomedicine; Nanoparticle; Physicochemical properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemistry, Physical / methods
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Contrast Media / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Microscopy, Scanning Tunneling
  • Molecular Imaging / methods
  • Nanomedicine / methods
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nanotechnology / trends*
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman
  • Surface Properties
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / methods


  • Contrast Media