Recent advances in nanotechnology have outpaced its monitoring techniques. Increased production of these technologies has led to increased amounts of airborne nanoparticles (sub-100 nm particles) and consequently, growing environmental and health concerns. Submicron particles can penetrate deeply into the respiratory system, and smaller (<100 nm) particles can enter the circulation system. Nanosized particles may become more toxic than the micron ones made from the same material.
Our team has been developing a cost-effective technology to directly measure the number distribution of airborne nanoparticles by diffusive charging and aerodynamic focusing. Theoretically, a properly designed focusing orifice could separate particles down to a couple of nanometers. The newly improved prototype could reach down to 40 nm. The lower size limit and accuracy of this technology could be further improved with a better understanding of nanoparticle focusing and nanoaerosol charging.
Nanoaerosol research is mainly supported by NSERC and CFI.