Absolute Quantification of Gold Nanoparticles with Femtomolar Accuracy Using Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy

  • Lee-Anne McCarthy
  • Andrew Dye
  • Enrico FerrariEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2118)


Here we describe a label-free method for the detection and absolute quantification of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) is used to detect less than a nanogram of AuNPs from complex unpurified biological samples. This corresponds to approximately femtomolar concentration range of AuNPs. ICP-AES is a nonoptical analytical technique which is unaffected by optically active molecules, opaque solutions, and organic or inorganic contaminants. It is therefore superior to traditional methods of detecting AuNPs based on the distinctive extinction peak in the visible spectrum. This method is compatible with high-throughput automated applications in life science and environmental research.

Key words

ICP-AES Atomic emission spectroscopy Gold nanoparticles Gold determination Absolute quantification 



The manuscript was edited by Mikhail Soloviev. Lee-Anne McCarthy acknowledges Midatech Pharma PLC for contributing funding toward her research work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of ScienceUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK
  2. 2.College of Science, School of Life SciencesUniversity of Lincoln, Brayford PoolLincolnUK

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