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Nanoplastics are tiny little particles smaller then 0.0001mm. They are not visible to the naked eye or even under a simple microscope. Current research studies  have shown, that those particles can be taken up by animal and human cells. 

Because of their commercial availability and simple synthesis polystyrene nanoplastics are widely used as model particles in studies regarding the effect of nanoplastic exposure on aquatic species and possible pathways to human exposure. However, the most common polymers found in the environment include polyethylene, polypropylene and PET. The lack of adequate study materials is a key issue that limits rapid advances within the research field.

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The top-down approach

We demonstrated the creation of fluorescent nanoparticles made out of the polymers PET, polypropylene, and polystyrene by a top-down approach using a melt-process and milling techniques. 

Plastic pellets with fluorophores

(< 0.3 mm)


(< 0.0002 mm)


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We could show, that the nanoplastics we produced have sizes of less than 150 nanometers (0.00015 mm) and that they can be taken up by human intestinal cells and human immune cells.

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Human intestinal cells with nanoplastics (red)

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Human immune cells with nanoplastics (turquoise)

In conclusion, the presented melt-processing and milling methods resulted in heterogeneously shaped plastic nanoparticles with a fluorescence label allowing their behavior within a complex biological environment to be studied.

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The bottom-up approach

The aim of this study is the creation of fluorescent nanoparticles made out of the polymers polyethylene, PET, polypropylene, and polystyrene by a bottom-up approach using an impinging jet mixing process.

The impinging jet mixing process

Further information to this project will soon follow as this study is still ongoing

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