Characterization of C60 Nanoparticles in Aqueous Systems


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Virginia Tech


The discovery that negatively charged aggregates of C60 fullerene are stable in aqueous environments has elicited concerns regarding the potential environmental and health effects of these aggregates. Although many previous studies have used aggregates synthesized using intermediate organic solvents, this work primarily employed an aggregate production method that more closely emulates the fate of C60 upon accidental release into the environment — extended mixing in water. The aggregates formed via this method (aqu/nC60) differ from those produced using the more common solvent exchange methods. The aqu/nC60 aggregates are heterogeneous in size (20 nm and larger) and shape (angular to round), negatively charged, and crystalline in structure — exhibiting a face centered cubic (fcc) system. Solution characteristics such as aqu/nC60 aggregate size and concentration were found to be dependant upon preparation variables such as stirring time, initial C60 concentration, and initial particle size.

Additional experiments indicate that aggregate charge, structure, and stability are highly dependant upon the identity of co-solutes (NaCl, CaCl2, sodium citrate) and their concentrations. Citrate concentrations greater than 0.5 mM resulted in the formation of very small (< 20 nm) spherical aqu/nC60 particles. At moderate citrate concentrations (~ 1 mM) a more negative surface charge was observed, which may be an indication of increased nC60 stability. In contrast, high concentrations of monovalent and divalent electrolytes result in aggregation and sedimentation of nC60 out of solution. Our research describes the effect that solution composition has on aggregate formation and stability, and suggests that C60 fate and transport will be a function of solution composition.



electrophoretic mobility, crystallinity, HRTEM, Fullerene, nC60, nanoparticles, DLS, sodium citrate