The semiconductor industry annually uses thousands of tons of nanoparticles (NPs) in chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) processes. When iii/v materials are processed with CMP, the NPs and In(iii), Ga(iii) and As(v) ions (i.e., iii/v ions) coincide and end up in wastewater from electronics fabrication lines. CMP NPs (colloidal SiO2 (C-SiO2), fumed SiO2 (F-SiO2), CeO2 and Al2O3) may interact with iii/v ions (e.g. In(iii), Ga(iii) and As(v)) and facilitate their transport in aquatic systems. Across a range of pH levels, we found that appreciable adsorptions of In(iii) ions onto CeO2 or Al2O3 NPs, Ga(iii) ions onto C-SiO2, F-SiO2, CeO2 or Al2O3 NPs, and As(v) ions onto CeO2 or Al2O3 NPs occur. We determined the intrinsic surface complexation constant (KC,intr) between the ions and NPs by fitting the experimental data with a surface complexation model (SCM). We then extended the SCM to calculate adsorption as a function of NP size. As size increases, surface site density (SSD) increases, whereas specific surface area (SSA) decreases; both eventually reach a plateau where the bulk material stands. Nonetheless, mass site density (MSD), i.e. the site number per mass, increases with size reduction, indicating that smaller particles give higher adsorption capacity based on the same mass. Upon a 1 nm size reduction of C-SiO2 NPs, the model predicts that the MSD increases <1% for sizes >100 nm and >10% for sizes <10 nm. For C-SiO2 NPs adsorbing Ga(iii) ions, the model predicts that decreasing the NP size enhances the adsorption efficiency the most in the pH ranges of 2.5-3 and 8.5-11. This work represents the first SCM capable of incorporating size-dependent NP properties to predict adsorption of environmentally relevant ions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1014-1026
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science: Nano
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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