Characterization of eco-friendly fluorescent nanoparticle-doped tracers for environmental sensing

Flavia Tauro, Emiliano Rapiti, Jafar F. Al-Sharab, Lucio Ubertini, Salvatore Grimaldi, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Particle tracers are extensively used in quantitative flow visualization and environmental sensing. In this paper, we provide a thorough characterization of the novel eco-friendly fluorescent particle tracers formulated in Tauro et al. (AIP Adv 3(3): 032108, 2013). The tracers are synthesized from natural beeswax and are functionalized by encapsulating nontoxic fluorophore nanoparticles in the beads' matrix through an inexpensive thermal procedure. Visibility and durability studies are conducted through a wide array of techniques to investigate the tracers' surface morphological microfeatures, crystal nature and size, chemical composition, fluorophore incorporation into the beeswax matrix, and fluorescence response under severe settings resembling exposure to natural environments. Our findings demonstrate that fluorescent nanoparticles ranging from 1.51 to 3.73 nm are homogeneously distributed in the superficial layer (12 nm) of the tracers. In addition, fluorescence emissions are observed up to 26 days of continuous exposure of the tracers to high energy radiation. To demonstrate the particles' use in environmental flow sensing, a set of proof of concept outdoor tests are conducted, in which image analysis tools are utilized for detecting the fluorescent tracers. Experimental results suggest that fluorescent microparticles deployed in high flow-rate flows (2 m/s) and under direct sunlight can be sensed through commercially available cameras (frame rate set to 30 Hz).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1884
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Environmental sensing
  • Fluorescent nanoparticles
  • Microscopy
  • Tracer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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