Physicochemical Characterization

The physicochemical characteristics of nanomaterials can affect their cellular uptake, binding to blood proteins, access to target sites, and ability to cause damage to cells and tissue.11 Standard methods for physicochemical characterization of nanomaterials will provide the basis for rational product development as well as consistent and interpretable results for tests of efficacy and safety. Few examples of standard characterization criteria exist in the literature, and there is as yet no consensus as to what measurement criteria are appropriate for any given nanomaterial product. However, it is clear that the diversity and complexity of nanomaterials used in biomedical applications dictates a more comprehensive and strategic approach to characterization than has been applied to date.

There are many varieties of nanomaterials currently being investigated for biomedical applications, especially for cancer diagnosis, imaging, and targeted drug delivery. These nanomaterials may be classified under several broad categories:

• Organic nanoparticles (e.g., dendrimers, polymers, functionalized fullerenes)

• Inorganic nanoparticles and organic-inorganic hybrids (e.g., iron oxide core particles, quantum dots)

• Liposomes and other biological nanomaterials

Each category of nanomaterial has a distinctly different composition that gives rise to different physical properties, such as solubility, stability, surface characteristics, and functional capabilities. Even within a single category, there can be a tremendous variety of product compositions, each with unique physical and chemical characteristics, and each requiring a different strategy for measuring those characteristics. This section examines the various categories of nanoparticles, and the tools and instrumentation available to address physicochemical characterization.

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