Capture data on nanoparticle size, distribution and concentration with newly added instrument

Nanoparticle tracking analysis follows motion of individual particles, bringing new capability to UCLA user facilities

HORIBA ViewSizer 3000 NTA

Researchers in the biomedical sciences and materials science can derive important insights from visualizing, sizing and counting nanoparticles, with applications from developing lentiviruses for gene therapy to tuning the composition of advanced materials. Those studying proteins, extracellular vesicles (EV), liposomes, lipid nanoparticles, and viruses will all find advantages with a technique called nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA).

A California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA user facility recently added NTA capabilities that were previously unavailable among shared resources on campus. The Nano and Pico Characterization Laboratory (NPC) offers access to the Horiba ViewSizer 3000, which characterizes nanoparticles in liquid by tracking the heat-induced Brownian motion of each individual particle. The instrument’s three lasers allow it for a wide range of scattered light intensities to track particles of various sizes, from 10 nanometers to 15 microns.

“We are excited to use the new Horiba NTA instrument in our tumor extracellular vesicle research,” said HR Tseng, a UCLA professor of molecular and medical pharmacology. “Our UCLA Liquid Biopsy Lab is developing EV-based liquid biopsy techniques for cancer diagnosis, and the exact quantification of EVs that the NTA enables is an essential component of validation procedures and the creation of consistent spiked samples.”

A major strength of the NTA instrument is its high-resolution data on size distribution, which comes from the ability to track samples particle-by-particle over time. The system also provides measurements of concentration — something difficult to assess in the submicron range with other techniques. The lasers enable the use of fluorescent markers to follow the motion of specific subsets of particles and increase sensitivity.

The ViewSizer 3000 captures high-quality, low-noise images with its charge-coupled device camera. Samples can be as small as 350 microliters or as large as 2.5 milliliters, analyzed over a temperature range from 10 to 50 C. Typical sample concentration spans four degrees of magnitude, from 105 to 109 particles per milliliter.

The NPC is open to UCLA researchers, investigators from other campuses and those working in industry. For project consultation, proof of concept, training or other assistance, e-mail npc@cnsi.ucla.edu.