Processing and characterization of nanoparticle coatings for quartz crystal microbalance measurements

Jessica D. Torrey, Teresa L. Kirschling, Lauren F. Greenlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The quartz-crystal microbalance is a sensitive and versatile tool for measuring adsorption of a variety of compounds (e.g. small molecules, polymers, biomolecules, nanoparticles and cells) to surfaces. While the technique has traditionally been used for measuring adsorption to flat surfaces and thin ridged films, it can also be extended to study adsorption to nanoparticle surfaces when the nanoparticles are fixed to the crystal surface. The sensitivity and accuracy of the measurement depend on the users' ability to reproducibly prepare a thin uniform nanoparticle coating. This study evaluated four coating techniques, including spin coating, spray coating, drop casting, and electrophoretic deposition, for two unique particle chemistries [nanoscale zero valent iron (nZVI) and titanium dioxide (TiO2)] to produce uniform and reproducible nanoparticle coatings for real-time quartz-crystal microbalance measurements. Uniform TiO2 coatings were produced from a 50 mg/mL methanol suspension via spin coating. Nanoscale zero-valent iron was best applied by spray coating a low concentration 1.0 mg/mL suspended in methanol. The application of multiple coatings, rather than an increase in the suspension concentration, was the best method to increase the mass of nanoparticles on the crystal surface while maintaining coating uniformity. An upper mass threshold was determined to be approximately 96 μg/cm2; above this mass, coatings no longer maintained their uniform rigid characteristic, and a low signal to noise ratio resulted in loss of measurable signal from crystal resonances above the fundamental.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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