The unit electron microscopy is part of the service “Trace Elements and Nanomaterials” (Trace elements and nanomaterials | of the scientific direction “Chemical and Physical Health Risks” Chemical and physical health risks | of Sciensano.

We characterise the physicochemical properties of nanomaterials in a regulatory context, using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and focusing on nanomaterials in the food chain, medicines, cosmetics and the (working) environment.

Thanks to our expertise in TEM analysis, we are able to make pictures (electron micrographs) of particles at a nanometric (nm) scale. Based on these pictures, we assess the size of the particles and describe their morphology, aggregation and agglomeration state and their crystallinity. The presence of contaminants and impurities can also be visualised.

In addition to that, we use image analysis to measure the size, shape and surface properties of individual nanoparticles. When using analytical TEM, we can simultaneously evaluate the size, shape, morphology and the chemical composition of nanoparticles with a nanometric resolution. Thanks to this technique, we can identify and measure specific particles in complex matrices like food, cosmetics, medicines and the environment.

The above-described information is mandatory to identify nanomaterials, as well as for their registration and the risk analysis of their applications.