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Table 2 Potential analytical techniques for the characterization of corona formation on M/NPs, their strengths and limitations

From: Coronas of micro/nano plastics: a key determinant in their risk assessments

Techniques Corona Information Sample states Strengths Limitations
UV–vis Binding of protein corona to M/NPs Particles High reproducible and precision. nondestructive Not suitable for qualification, susceptible to sample matrix, low sensitivity
DLS Binding of coronas to M/NPs Particles Rapid and reproducible measurement of many nanoparticles, nondestructive Not suitable for qualification and quantification, not suitable for heterogeneous particles
Fluorescence microscopy Binding of coronas to M/NPs Particles High sensitive and good for real–time detection Requirements for fluorescence labeling
TEM Interactions between M/NPs and corona Particles High spatial resolution Not suitable for qualification and quantification
SEM Interactions between M/NPs and corona Particles High spatial resolution Low particle population, poor qualification and quantification
AFM Interactions between M/NPs and corona Particles High spatial resolution, possibility for 3D imaging Poor efficiency
EDX Elemental, especially metal elemental distribution Particles High efficiency Not suitable for organic elements
Raman Structures of organic substances, such as natural organic matters, lipids, persistent organic pollutants Particles Broad coverage of both organic and inorganic species Low spatial resolution
FTIR Structures of organic substances, such as natural organic matters, lipids, persistent organic pollutants Particles Good repeatability, high flexibility Low accuracy and sensitivity, not available for inorganic species
ICP–MS Compositions of metal or metal ions Acid digested solution High sensitivity and accuracy, quantification Not suitable for organic compounds
TOF–SIMS Structures of organic substances, such as natural organic matters, lipids, persistent organic pollutants, proteins Particles 3D profile with high mass resolution and spatial resolution Poor quantification, not suitable for unknown compounds, requirements for samples
GC–MS Compositions of hydrophobic and volatile organic compounds, such as flame retardants, lubricants and plasticizers and persistent organic pollutants Solvent extracted solution High sensitivity and reproducibility Not suitable for thermally labile compounds
LC–MS Compositions of thermally labile coronas, such as proteins, lipids, peptides Enzyme digested or solvent extracted solution Broad coverage of compounds, high sensitivity and accuracy Requirements for multistep sample pretreatment, ex situ analysis
CE–MS Compositions of thermally labile coronas, such as proteins and metabolites Enzyme digested or solvent extracted solution High resolution and selectivity Not suitable for direct analysis of high molecular proteins, limited loading capacity