How to choose a light scattering instrument for nanoparticle size and zeta potential measurements

DLS and ELS are versatile techniques that are used to characterize the size and zeta potential of particulate materials. They are most commonly applied to colloidal systems, nanoparticles and macromolecules in solution or dispersion. Of course, the specifications of a DLS/ELS instrument are vital when comparing systems from different manufacturers. But if you don’t use your system in the right way, or don’t take advantage of all the options, then you won’t get the best out of it. 

So here we cover not just the specifications you should be thinking about when purchasing an instrument, but other key aspects, such as sample type and workflow. That way, you’ll get a system that does exactly what it needs to do for you, and does it well.

DLS and ELS essentials

DLS uses the light scattering of particles or molecules undergoing Brownian motion to measure their diffusion coefficients. These are then converted into size distributions.

ELS uses the Doppler effect arising from the motion of light-scattering particles to measure their speed in the presence of an electric field. This is then converted into a zeta potential value (or distribution).

Because of the similarity of the technology involved in DLS and ELS, and the complementary nature of the results, most systems on the market (including our Zetasizer Advance range) offer both techniques.

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