Tag Archives: Dynamic Light Scattering

The Benefits of the Zetasizer

In order to be effective, topical oil-based products, or ‘semisolid’ drugs, need to be able to penetrate the skin in a manner that allows them to be delivered to the body’s circulation. Whether it’s for beauty, medicine or any other purpose, the challenge of delivering semisolids into the body is crucial to the success of any given semisolid product.

Measuring the size of particles within these semisolids is the key to ensuring the product is delivered in the most effective manner. Various methods of particle size measurement or analysis are used to measure these materials, including laser diffraction and dynamic light scattering. Further to this, by using an instrument called the Zetasizer, scientists can also understand the variable effects of pH and temperature on the delivery system.

Dynamic light scattering

In order to guarantee the size of the nanoparticles remains consistent at the pH and temperature that will be found on the human body, the process of dynamic light scattering (DLS) can be used. DLS measures the intensity of scattered light from particles suspended under Brownian motion, before analysing fluctuations. DLS is so sensitive that it can track changes in particle size to less than 1nm across, making it very nicely suited to examining potential particle size shifts in the human body.

pH and temperature changes

By studying the effect of pH changes on the nanoparticles, we can finely tune the molecular change that may result when being applied to the human body. For example, when pH values are low, the diameter of the particles increases; if the pH level is raised again, then it will be restored to its former size. Using this technique allows us to control the size of the nanoparticles in the body. Alternatively, we can also use temperature instead of pH; higher temperatures make nanoparticles more hydrophobic, resulting in larger particle sizes.

An example

Take, for example, the Lipodisq delivery system, which copies the way naturally-occurring HDLs [high-density lipoproteins] bind cholesterol in the body. The nanoparticles of the Lipodisq system are able to find a way through the skin while still carrying the pharmaceutical agents with them to be delivered into the bloodstream – but they need to be exactly the right size. In fact, the suitable size range is very small; if the nanoparticles are larger than 50nm (nanometres) in size, they will not be able to breach the outer layer of the skin. If they’re less than 5-10nm, they will be too unstable to properly transport the required ingredients. Therefore, these nanoparticles must fall somewhere between 10nm and 50nm in order to be effective.

Using the Zetasizer

Particle size analysis technology is already having dramatic benefits to the pharmaceutical industry as the ability for executing controlled releases of semisolids into the body is increased. Any method that achieves particle size measurement can go a long way to aiding in this regard, but the fact that the Zetasizer is capable of taking into account variables such as pH and temperature make it an outstanding tool and one that will undoubtedly be used on a more regular basis.

ATS Scientific offers a range of Zetasizer instruments, so browse our product range today to find the right one for you.

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10 Applications for Particle Size Analysis

10 Applications for Particle Size Analysis

Particle size analysis involves using methods such as laser diffraction to measure the size of particles within a sample. By measuring and controlling particle size, manufacturers are able to deliver higher quality products. Here we look at 10 industries or products that have benefited from the application of particle size analysis.

1. Asthma puffers

For asthma sufferers, inhalers can help relieve respiratory discomfort on a day-to-day basis, and may even be the difference between life and death.

Studies have shown that asthma sufferers don’t always use their puffers according to directions, and the effectiveness of an inhaler can vary between users. In fact there are several factors that determine the efficacy of a puffer, including;

  • Construction of the device
  • Particle size of the drug
  • Technique of the user
  • Respiratory flow of the user

It is near impossible to ensure that asthma sufferers always chose the right puffer or consistently use the correct technique. Particle size, however, is one factor that manufacturers can control to ensure that asthma medication is delivered as efficiently as possible. Particle size analysis plays a key role in developing aerosols for effective delivery into the asthma sufferer’s lungs.

2. Inks

From pens, to computer printers, to professional book and screen printing – ink applications are wide ranging. Ink is essentially a fluid used to mark solids and there is low tolerance for error when it comes to the manufacturing quality of ink.

Particle size in pen ink relates largely to pigments which can affect:

  • Viscosity of the ink
  • Colour
  • Stability of the ink

Through careful analysis, manufacturers can gain control over the performance of fundamental ink properties, resulting in a better overall product and manufacturing process.

3. Cement

In cement manufacturing, there are two key areas where laser diffraction particle size analysis can have a material impact:

  • Controlling manufacturing costs
  • Increasing performance

Prior to the wide availability of particle size analysis equipment, common methods included the use of sieve and air permeability tests. While these methods are still in use, laser diffraction through particle size analysis is faster, cheaper and easier to use and automate.

When particle size in cement manufacturing plays such an important role in both price and performance, it’s no wonder particle size analysis is so widely used in this industry.

4. Road safety

The effectiveness of reflective surfaces used in road safety measures is dependent on the particulate size and distribution of reflective material.

Glass beads are typically used as the reflective surface. The reduction of impurities and promotion of desirable particle distribution can aid manufacturers in the production of glass beads that:

  • Reflect over greater distances
  • Reflect more uniformly
  • Last longer

Given the importance of providing clearly visible and reflective markings on long stretches of road and highway, accurate testing using particle size analysis is vital to ensure consistency and improvement.

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5. Ceramics

Ceramics are most commonly produced from powders. The size and distribution of particles within these powders has significant effects on both the function and manufacturing of ceramic products. Depending on the function of the ceramic, particle size analysis can aid in:

  • Densification
  • Transport
  • Mechanical properties

A single gram of ceramic powder can have billions of particles, with a total surface area of several square meters. Particle size analysis allows an understanding of both particle distribution and percentage of impurities within the powder. Using laser diffraction, the appraisal process is much faster and easier to accomplish than with a manual sieve.

6. Semisolid pharmaceuticals

In general terms, semisolids possess properties of both liquids and solids. In pharmaceuticals, semisolids are used for specific applications or in situations where the delivery of the drug is critical for patients who can’t accept traditional delivery types.

Example of semisolid pharmaceuticals include:

  • Ointments
  • Gels
  • Lotions
  • Creams

Because medicine is critical to our health and wellbeing, there is little room for error. With the help of particle size analysis, pharmacists and manufacturers can gain more accuracy in drug design and quality control, benefiting both patients and companies.

7. Cosmetics

The beauty industry is heavily reliant on semisolid products such as powders and creams. Particle size is a key factor in the consistency of these materials and laser diffraction can benefit analysis and development of a variety of cosmetic products.

  • Generally, moisturisers are oil in water emulsions, the formulation of which requires knowledge of both the particle size distribution of the oil dispersal and the zeta potential, which is the charge on the surface of the droplets.
  • Lipstick colour is related to the use and selection of pigments. Particle size affects the colour and effect of the product. Larger particles, for example, create sparkle and other lustre effects, while small particles typically create a ‘silky’ finish.
  • The particle size and distribution of foundations and other facial powders can affect the stability of the product, as well as appearance and capacity to provide sun protection through the use of light scattering components like zinc oxide.

When it comes to the highly competitive cosmetics industry, most manufacturers strive for perfection. Particle size analysis is therefore an indispensable tool in research and development of cosmetic products.

8. Soils and sediments

From farming and agriculture to building, construction, conservation and mining – soil and sediment are critical materials in a range of high value industries.

Soil and sediment can be classified into categories, most commonly:

  • Sand
  • Silt
  • Clay

Each type exhibits different qualities and varying levels of stability, water retention, aeration and drainage. Across all industries that require knowledge of soil properties, laser diffraction particle analysis can offer insight into the distribution of particulate types and the potential risks and benefits of given soil samples.

9. Food and drink

Size and distribution of particles in food and drink products can affect the taste, texture, appearance and stability of the product.

For example, coffee beans need to be ground into fine particulates after roasting and before brewing. Optimal levels of particulate size will depend on the type of bean, desired flavour and method of brewing. For coffee roasters, control over particle size is therefore extremely important for consumer experience.

Chocolate is another product that can benefit from laser diffraction. ‘Mouth feel’, which describes the optimal creaminess of eating chocolate, is a key factor in delivering a superior consumer experience. As chocolate is primarily a combination of milk solids and cocoa powder, particle size analysis can help chocolate producers manipulate their production process to maximise customer satisfaction.

10. Plastics

Plastics and polymers invariably benefit from particle size analysis. Polystyrene, for example, has particle sizes ranging from 20 nanometers to 1000 microns.

In most plastic manufacturing processes, the starting material is a pellet or powder. These feeder materials must meet a number of criteria, including:

  • Melting point
  • Flexural strength
  • Compressive strength
  • Impact resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Density
  • Tensile strength
  • Chemical composition

Each of these criteria are greatly affected by the particle size distribution of the pellets or powder. Particle size analysis can also improve transport and packaging processes – pellets and powders are easier to ship than heated slurries.

The benefits of particle size analysis

By using laser diffraction to measure particle size, this technique allows analysis of particle behaviour and consistency in a range of products. Understanding particle size gives manufacturers the information and control needed to ensure delivery of high quality products across a variety of industries.

If you’re in an industry that relies on particle size analysis, you’ll benefit from investing in quality instruments to measure particle size. ATA Scientific offers a range of products perfect for this application, so browse our product range today.

5 Fascinating Careers in Industrial Science

Careers in industrial science continue to expand with positions opening up in both government and private institutions, especially in the area of research and manufacturing. Graduates can choose from a range of careers in agricultural and biological sciences, the information and technology sector, food and pharmaceutical companies, as well as mining and mineral exploration.

With the unparalleled expansion of scientific knowledge, industrial scientists have the opportunity of working at the leading edge of scientific developments no matter whether they have a leaning towards biology, chemistry or physics.

There will be a career path in industrial science in a variety of fields, and this article looks at five fascinating careers to consider.

1. Industrial Microbiology

If you have a penchant to work in a multidisciplinary scientific environment, then industrial microbiology or biotechnology could interest you. Processes and production problems often take scientists in a variety of directions which means that an industrial microbiologist has to be adaptable across such fields as bioengineering, biochemistry and molecular biology. Career pathways can lead you into fields such as antibiotics and vaccines as well as many other healthcare products and even food and beverages which are produced by microbial activity, for instance, cheeses, yoghurts.

2. Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineering suits graduates who are concerned about the man-made environment and issues relating to water quality, waste disposal, air quality and dealing with contaminated land. Today, research into the prevention of pollution is supported by government and private agencies alike and graduates can expect to work with mechanisms of sustainability in either private companies or government research facilities.

3. Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering provides a practical link between the theory of science and manufacturing. Industrial scientists with a preference for working in this area will be involved in designing of equipment and development of large chemical manufacturing processes in a variety of industries including photography and photographic equipment, manufacturing chemicals and health care products

4. Academic Research

Most academic careers in the area of industrial science will attract high achieving practitioners looking to develop their research and, naturally, to teach within universities. Professorial appointments are highly regarded and provide satisfying careers for experienced scientists. Although opportunities are limited, with the expansion in industrial scientific jobs as a whole, academic posts are becoming more frequently advertised.

5. Nanotechnology

Within the emerging realm of nanotechnology, jobs are being created across a diverse range of activities. From creating cosmetics and researching the nature of matter, to medical diagnostics and developing better batteries are just a few opportunities that provide blossoming careers for industrial scientists. It is safe to say there is a revolution in manufacturing and in production of new materials. The new ways in which these are made is largely under the direction of a highly qualified industrial scientist. You could find yourself working for a sports equipment company or the army. The choices are almost endless.

Industrial Science Growth

The outlook for employment in the area of industrial science is rapidly increasing. Government predictions of job growth show that this growth will continue for at least the next three years unabated. Even in times of slower employment growth, it is apparent that many companies will continue to research and develop new products requiring industrial science expertise.

Your future

Regardless of the field chosen, most people working in industrial science will gain first hand experience with cutting edge analytical measurement techniques. Measurement technologies such as Laser Diffraction, Dynamic Light Scattering, Spectroscopy, HPLC and Rheology are widely used in industrial science jobs. With the help of these cutting-edge technologies supplied by ATA Scientific, people around the world are expanding development of exciting new products that will shape our future world.

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What is Nanotechnology?

Although the range of scientific endeavours that involves the use or study of nanotechnology gets bigger every year, it is difficult to find a definition which covers every aspect. In simple terms the prefix nano indicates something with extremely small dimensions and this gives us an insight into what nanotechnology is really all about. A nanoparticle size analyser using Dynamic Light Scattering technology has already been developed which can measure particles as small as <1 nm to 6 μm.

When you consider that the measurement of a metre, as defined by the International Standards Organisation, as ‘the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second’ and that a nanometre is 10- 9 of a metre you will develop an idea of the dimension in which this particular science works.

Think of electrons and the scale at which they exist and then imagine scientists who work with physical products that can only be measured in these extremely small scales and you have an idea of what nanotechnology really is. It is working with matter at the molecular level and includes the scientific ability to manufacture items from these extremely small building blocks so that they eventually become high performing products.

You get a clearer understanding when you consider the types of products that are being developed.

Nanotechnology enables scientists to build machines which have the scale of molecules, they can be a few nanometres wide, in other words smaller than a cell, yet perform functions that would normally be expected of a computer. The science-fiction notion of submarines the size of a pinhead that can travel through the human body to perform complex medical operations are closer to the truth than might have been expected when this novel idea was dreamt up.

It is generally thought that nanotechnology has the capacity to provide improved efficiency for machines and processes in every facet of life. However there is also concern that making things smaller may also introduce dangers and risks that we dont yet understand. As more and more materials are being produced at nano sizes, the need for understanding nano-toxicology increases. A good example is titanium dioxide, which is an ingredient in sunscreens. Sunscreen manufacturers are using titanium dioxide powders with smaller particle size because it is more transparent and more effective at blocking UV radiation from the sun. However if the particles are too small then they can pass through the skin and get into the blood stream. As yet, scientists dont fully understand the negative effects of having these nanparticles in the human body.

Over the next 20 to 30 years the development of nanotechnology is likely to exert more and more influence in the world of science and the impact will become more apparent in a relatively short space of time.

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What’s Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is a field of science that uses living organisms and bimolecular processes to make useful products. Applications span medicine, agriculture, food, energy and the environment.

Biotechnology draws on many specialist sciences such as genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry. In many instances it is also dependent on knowledge from outside biology such as chemical engineering.

Researchers often study biomolecular processes at the molecular level to gain an insight into small molecule structure and function. Protein interactions are widely studied, particularly their folding and refolding mechanisms. A wide range of analytical techniques are used from the established spectroscopic methods of UV-Vis, FTIR, and Circular Dichroism, through to the latest technologies such QCM-D (Quartz crystal microbalance) and Dual Polarisation Interferometry. Nano technology provides a whole new area of research and the possibility of new products. Particle size has a strong influence on the properties of nano materials. Nano particle size and Zeta potential are accurately measured by Dynamic light scattering.

What is new about biotechnology is that researchers can now take a single gene from a plant or animal cell and insert it into a different plant or animal cell. This is called transgenic technology. The gene chosen will contain code for a desired characteristic, for example plants that repel specific insect pests or disease.

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