Dr. Catia Contado
Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences - University of Ferrara


Inorganic nanomaterials in food and consumer products


In the past two decades, a number of inorganic and organic nanomaterials (NMs) have been introduced into food, personal care, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications, with the purpose of bringing a range of benefits to these sectors, mainly aiming at providing better quality and conservation.
The recent abundant use of NMs has placed, however, the accent on their potential risk, since nanoparticles, with their sizes between 1-100 nm, might interact with membrane cells of any living beings (plants, animals, humans). Consequently, legislators who are dealing with health and consumer protection have asked to the scientific community to implement or set-up new analytical methods able to detect and characterize the nanoparticles contained in food and consumer products in order to evaluate the risk on a solid definition of NMs.
This talk will illustrate, as the Field Flow Fractionation techniques (FFF), might be useful separation instruments to sort complex samples and to determine the average sizes and the particle size distribution of nano- and micro-particles. FFF techniques are often coupled online with a series of detectors such as UV-vis, refractive index, fluorescence, scattering detectors (DLS or MALS), ICP-MS, ICP-OES, GFAAS, whose choice depends on the practical application. Examples of SiO2, TiO2, silver, and ZnO separations will be presented in the light of the characterization required by the European Commission.


Dr. Catia Contado is Researcher in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Ferrara - Dept. of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences since 1999. Her main expertise is on Field-Flow Fractionation, a family of separation techniques suitable for the dimensional characterization of nano- and micro-particulate samples. Her initial research activity was focused on natural colloids and water-borne river particles analyses, whose separation and characterization requires a combination of different analytical techniques. Since 2008, her research interest has moved toward the characterization of micro- and nano-particles contained in consumer products and in pharmaceutical formulations.