Labilities of aqueous nanoparticulate metal complexes in environmental speciation analysis

R.M. Town, H.P. van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


An inherent property of a dispersion of charged nanoparticles is that their charges and reactive sites are spatially confined to the particle body which is at a different potential from that in the bulk medium. This feature has important consequences for the reactivity of nanoparticulate complexants: the diffusive rate of reactant supply is lower as compared to molecular complexants, whereas the local concentration of reactant ions may be enhanced if the particle’s electric field has the opposite charge sign. These effects are most dramatic for soft nanoparticles for which the electrostatic accumulation mechanisms operate on a 3-D level. We show how the interplay of these effects governs the reactivity of charged nanoparticulate metal complexes (M-NPs) at the surface of an analytical speciation sensor. A theoretical framework is presented that describes the lability of M-NP species over a range of effective timescales for different electrochemical and other dynamic speciation analysis techniques. The concepts are illustrated by electrochemical stripping data on metal complexes with natural soft nanoparticles of humic acid.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-205
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • ombrotrophic peat bog
  • humic-acid
  • fulvic-acid
  • stripping chronopotentiometry
  • ionic-strength
  • dissociation kinetics
  • diffusive gradients
  • dynamic speciation
  • solvent exchange
  • organic-matter

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