Separation and detection of individual submicron particles by capillary electrophoresis with laser-light-scattering detection

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Separation and detection of individual submicron polystyrene spheres using capillary electrophoresis with laser-light-scattering detection has been demonstrated. Electrophoretically separated particles were passed through a focused laser beam and light scattered from individual particles was collected at 90°. Each diameter of polystyrene spheres injected (from 110 to 992 nm) resulted in the observation of a well-defined migration window containing multiple peaks, each arising from the light scattered by an individual particle. The migration time window for individual particles of a particular size corresponded well to the migration time of a peak from a population of particles of the same size detected using a UV absorbance detector. The electrophoretic mobility and scattered light intensity were determined for each particle detected. The average scattered light intensity for each particle size was consistent with Mie scattering theory. Particles as small as 110 nm in diameter were detected individually using this method, but particles with a diameter of 57 nm could not be individually detected. The number of single particle scattering events was counted and compared to the theoretical number of particles injected electrokinetically, and the detection efficiency determined ranged from 38 to 57% for polystyrene spheres of different sizes. The laser-light-scattering detection method was directly compared to laser-induced fluorescence detection using fluorescent polystyrene microspheres. The number of particles detected individually by each method was in agreement. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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