Characterisation of selenium and tellurium nanoparticles produced by Aureobasidium pullulans using a multi-method approach.

Kenneth C Nwoko* (Corresponding Author), Xinjin Liang, Magali AMJ Perez, Eva Krupp, Geoffrey Michael Gadd, Jörg Feldmann

*Corresponding author for this work

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Aureobasidium pullulans was grown in liquid culture media amended with selenite and tellurite and selenium (Se) and tellurium (Te) nanoparticles (NPs) were recovered after 30 d incubation. A separation method was applied to recover and characterise Se and Te NPs by asymmetric flow field flow fractionation (AF4) with online coupling to multi-angle light scattering (MALS), ultraviolet visible spectroscopy (UV-Vis), and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) detectors. Additional characterisation data was obtained from transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and dynamic light scattering (DLS). Solutions of 0.2% Novachem surfactant and 10 mM phosphate buffer were compared as mobile phases to investigate optimal AF4 separation and particle recovery using Se-NP as a model sample. 88% recovery was reported for 0.2% Novachem solution, compared with 50% recovery for phosphate buffer. Different crossflow (C flow) rates were compared to further investigate optimum separation, with recoveries of 88% and 30% for Se-NPs, and 90% and 29% for Te-NPs for 3.5 mL min −1 and 2.5 mL min −1 respectively. Zeta-potential (ZP) data suggested higher stability for NP elution in Novachem solution, with increased stability attributed to minimised NP-membrane interaction due to PEGylation. Detection with MALS showed monodisperse Se-NPs (45–90 nm) and polydisperse Te-NPs (5–65 nm).Single particle ICP-MS showed mean particle diameters of 49.7 ± 2.7 nm, and 135 ± 4.3 nm, and limit of size detection (LOSD) of 20 nm and 45 nm for Se-NPs and Te-NPs respectively. TEM images of Se-NPs and Te-NPs displayed a spherical morphology, with the Te-NPs showing a clustered arrangement, which suggested electrostatic attraction amongst neighbouring particles. Particle hydrodynamic diameters (d H) measured with dynamic light scattering (DLS) further suggested monodisperse Se-NPs and polydisperse Te-NPs distributions, showing good agreement with AF4-MALS for Se-NPs, but suggests that the R g obtained from AF4-MALS for Te-NP was unreliable. The results demonstrate a complementary application of asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4), ICP-MS, light scattering, UV-Vis detection, and microscopic techniques to characterise biogenic Se and Te NPs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number462022
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Early online date27 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

KCN acknowledges the receipt of joint PhD research funding received from the University of Aberdeen's Elphinstone studentship award, and the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Foreign Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme. JF and KCN gratefully acknowledge Postnova Analytics, UK for loaning of the AF4 system and technical support, and the Microscopy and Histology Facility at the Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen for TEM measurements. G.M.G. gratefully acknowledges research support from Natural Environment Research Council (NE/M010910/1) under the NERC Security of Supply of Mineral Resources Grant Programme: Tellurium and Selenium cycling and supply (TeaSe).


  • Biogenic nanoparticles
  • selenium
  • tellurium
  • AF4
  • spICP-MS
  • Selenium
  • Tellurium


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