Characterization of nanoparticles for human toxicological investigations


Nanotechnology is the key technology of the 21st century whereby an increasingly wide range of nanomaterials and finally products, containing such substances, comes into use. Thus, man is in different pronounced contact with these new materials. Possible health risks due to the special properties of nanoscaled materials can occur and must be recognized in time.

In toxicological studies, e. g. in in vitro experiments, biologists and medical scientists can deduce emitted toxic effects of nanoparticles. An assessment of causes is only possible with an adequate material characterization. In addition to the comprehensive review of the raw material, the behavior of nanoscaled particles in physiological fluids is analyzed. Of particular interest are interactions of the particles among themselves and reactions with blood components such as proteins. The IKTS developed and will develop regulations and methods to improve the correlation between chemical-physical characterization of the nanoparticles and the toxicological studies.

Together with the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) Leipzig, the TU Dresden and the IKTS group hardmetals and cermets, we support as part of the Particle Safety Laboratory (PSL) ( the safe handling with particles through analysis and consulting.


Services offered


  • Powder characterization (specific surface area, porosity, electron microscopic analysis, crystal structure, density)
  • Preparation of stable nanoparticle suspensions as exposition model for toxicological investigations
  • Agglomeration behavior and change of the zeta potential in different physiological solutions
  • Assessment of the influences of different kinds of proteins as well as serum supplements on the suspension stability
  • Electron microscopic imaging for the assessment of particle size, aggregation degree and particle morphology


Technical equipment


  • BET, Hg porosimetry, He-pyknometry
  • Particle size measurement (dynamic and static light scattering; analytical centrifugation)
  • Determination of the zeta potential by means of microelectrophoresis
  • protein determination by the Bradford assay
  • XRD, field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) equipped with EDX (Ceramography )




This page gives a selection of own publications on the topic of health effects of nanoparticles. In many publications the full-text access is not included for copyright reasons and therefore not freely available.

Physical-chemical characterization of tungsten carbide nanoparticles as a basis for toxicological investigation.
Meißner T, Kühnel D, Busch W, Oswald S, Richter V, Michaelis A, Schirmer K, Potthoff A, 2010.
Nanotoxicology, 4, 196-206.

Toxicity of Tungsten Carbide and Cobalt-doped Tungsten Carbide Nanoparticles in Mammalian Cells in Vitro.
Bastian S, Busch W, Kühnel D, Springer A, Meißner T, Holke R, Scholz S, Iwe M, Pompe W, Gelinsky M, Potthoff A, Richter V, Ikonomidou H, Schirmer K, 2009.
Environ Health Perspect 117, 530-536. (Open Access)

Physico-chemical characterization in the light of toxicological effects.
Meißner T, Potthoff A, Richter V. 2009
Inhal. Toxicol. 21, 35-39.

Evaluation of health risks of nanoparticles - a contribution to a sustainable development of nanotechnology.
Potthoff A, Meißner T, Richter V, Busch W, Kühnel D, Bastian S, Iwe M, Springer A. 2009.
Solid State Phenomena 151, 183-189.

Suspension characterization as important key for toxicological investigations.
Meißner T, Potthoff A, Richter V. 2009
Journal of Physics: Conference Series 170, 012012. (Open Access)