Due to the already prevalent and increasing use of silver-nanoparticle (Ag-NP) products and the raised concerns in particular for the aquatic environment, analytical techniques for the characterization of such products are of need. However, because Ag-NP products are of different compositions and polydispersities, analysis especially of the size distribution is challenging. In this work, an asymmetric flow field flow fractionation (A4F) multidetector system (UV/vis, light scattering, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry – ICPMS), in combination with a method to distinguish and quantify the particle and dissolved Ag fractions (ICPMS after ultracentrifugation), for the characterization of Ag-NP products with different degrees of polydispersities is presented. For validation and to outline benefits and limitations, results obtained from batch dynamic light scattering (batch-DLS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were compared. With the developed method a comprehensive understanding in terms of dissolved Ag and Ag-NP concentration as well as an element selective, mass- and number particle size distribution (PSD) was obtained.
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