• Manufactured nanomaterials;
  • Cerium oxide;
  • Microscopy;
  • Crystal structure;
  • Chemical composition;
  • Surface properties


Part 1 (see companion paper) of the present study discussed the application of a multimethod approach in characterizing the size of cerium oxide nanoparticles (NPs). However, other properties less routinely investigated, such as shape and morphology, structure, chemical composition, and surface properties, are likely to play an important role in determining the behavior, reactivity, and potential toxicity of these NPs. The present study describes the measurement of the aforementioned physicochemical properties of NPs (applied also to nanomaterials [NMs]) compared with micrometer particles (MPs). The authors use a wide range of techniques, including high resolution-transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and electrophoresis, and compare these techniques, their advantages, and their limitations, along with recommendations about how best to approach NM characterization, using an application to commercial cerium oxide NPs and MPs. Results show that both cerium oxide NPs and MPs are formed of single polyhedron or truncated polyhedron crystals. Cerium oxide NPs contain a mixture of Ce3+ and Ce4+ cations, whereas the MPs contain mainly Ce4+, which is potentially important in understanding the toxicity of cerium oxide NPs. The isoelectric point of cerium oxide NPs was approximately pH 8, which explains their propensity to aggregate in aqueous media (see companion paper). Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 994–1003. © 2012 SETAC