Much of the problem attributed to determining the toxicity of nanoparticles has been that we donâ''t have the tools to perform proper analysis. Sure, we can use different microscopy tools to look at nanoparticles, but this is typically only in a vacuum with very expensive equipment that is impossible to have leave the lab.
Many calls have gone out for equipment that will analyze nanoparticles both in liquid and in the air, none more urgent than the one it appeared in Nature one year ago.
But thereâ''s a company that already has developed a tool that enables the real-time visualization of nanoparticles in liquidâ''Nanosight Ltd.
The tool essentially uses lasers, light-scattering techniques and some sophisticated software that allow for individually tracking particles and showing particle size distribution.
I had the opportunity to see them make a presentation at the UK Nanoforum this week in London, and was a little stunned at the capabilities of the technology in the context of all the furor that has developed over the potential toxicity of nanoparticles and the lack of tools to better get a handle on it.
I took the opportunity to ask Jeremy Warren, the CEO of Nanosight, if the tool could also be used to analyze nanoparticles in air. The answer was a quick, â''Of course, but there are so many interesting uses for it in liquid media.â''
So, okay there is a tool for analyzing nanoparticles both in air and liquid, and it can be carried around anywhere like a laptop, and we donâ''t have to wait for five years for it to be developed.
Now we have a research agenda and at least one of the tools that will help us conduct that research, could we get on with the research and lower the volume on the scare until we know more.