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Feasibility of the development of reference materials for the detection of Ag nanoparticles in food: neat dispersions and spiked chicken meat

The feasibility of producing colloidal silver nanoparticle reference materials and silver nanoparticle spiked reference matrix materials was investigated. Two concentrations of PVP-coated silver nanoparticle dispersions were evaluated and used to spike chicken meat, with the aim of producing a set of reference materials to support the development of analytical methods for the detection and quantification of nanoparticles in food. Aqueous silver nanoparticle (AgNP) dispersions were evaluated for their homogeneity of mass fraction and particle size and found sufficiently homogeneous to be used as reference materials.Stability studies at 4 C, 18 C and 60 C demonstrated sufficient short- and long-term stability, although particle size decreases in a linear fashion at 60 C. The AgNP dispersions were characterized for total Ag mass fraction by ICP-OES, dissolved Ag content by ultrafiltration-ICPMS, as well as AgNP particle size by dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and gasphase electrophoretic molecular mobility analysis. Chicken breasts were homogenized by cryo-milling and spiked with aqueous AgNP dispersions. Rapid freezing over liquid nitrogen resulted in homogeneous and stable materials. The spiked chicken materials were characterized for their total Ag mass fraction by neutron activation analysis and for the AgNP particle size by TEM and single-particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The observed differences in particle sizes between the spiked chicken samples and the original silver dispersions indicate relevant matrix effects. The materials demonstrate that production and characterization of reference materials for the detection and quantification of silver nanoparticles in meat are feasible, but challenges especially in assessing stability and having sufficiently precise methods for assessment of homogeneity and stability remain.