Method for Obtaining Silver Nanoparticle Concentrations within a Porous Medium via Synchrotron X-ray Computed Microtomography

Ian L. Molnar, Clinton S. Willson, Denis M. O’carroll, Mark L. Rivers, Jason I. Gerhard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Attempts at understanding nanoparticle fate and transport in the subsurface environment are currently hindered by an inability to quantify nanoparticle behavior at the pore scale (within and between pores) within realistic pore
networks. This paper is the first to present a method for high resolution quantification of silver nanoparticle (nAg) concentrations within porous media under controlled experimental conditions. This method makes it possible to extract silver nanoparticle concentrations within individual pores in static
and quasi-dynamic (i.e., transport) systems. Quantification is achieved by employing absorption-edge synchrotron X-ray computed microtomography (SXCMT) and an extension of the Beer−Lambert law. Three-dimensional maps of X-ray mass linear attenuation are converted to SXCMT-determined nAg concentration and are found to closely match the concentrations determined by ICP analysis. In addition, factors affecting the quality of the SXCMT-determined results are investigated: 1) The acquisition of an additional above-edge data set reduced the standard deviation of SXCMT-determined concentrations; 2) X-ray
refraction at the grain/water interface artificially depresses the SXCMT-determined concentrations within 18.1 μm of a grain surface; 3) By treating the approximately 20 × 106 voxels within each data set statistically (i.e., averaging), a high level of confidence in the SXCMT-determined mean concentrations can be obtained. This novel method provides the means to examine a wide range of properties related to nanoparticle transport in controlled laboratory porous medium experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1114-1122
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2014


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