An assessment of retention behavior for gold nanorods in asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation
Hind El Hadri, Julien Gigault, Jiaojie Tan, Vincent A. Hackley
Applications of asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) continue to expand rapidly in the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology. In particular, AF4 has proven valuable for the separation and analysis of particles, biomolecular species (e.g., proteins, viruses) and polymers (natural and synthetic), ranging in size from a few nanometers to several micrometers. The separation of non-spheroidal structures (e.g., rods, tubes, etc.) with primary dimensions in the nanometer regime, is a particularly challenging application deserving of greater study and consideration. The goal of the present study was to advance current understanding of the mechanism of separation of rod-like nano-objects in the AF4 channel. To achieve this, we have systematically investigated a series of commercially available cetyltrimethylammonium bromide stabilized gold nanorods (AuNRs), with aspect ratios from 1.7 to 10. Results show clearly that the retention time is principally dependent on the translational diffusion coefficient of the AuNRs. Equations used to calculate translational and rotational diffusion coefficients (cylinder and prolate ellipsoid models) yield similarly good fits to experimental data. Well characterized gold nanorods (length and diameter by TEM) can be used as calibrants for AF4 measurements allowing one to determine the aspect ratio of nanorod samples based on their retention times.