Name of the infrastructure: KIT-TA

Location (town, country): Karlsruhe, Germany

Web site address:;;

Legal name of organisation operating the infrastructure: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Location of organisation (town, country): Karlsruhe, Germany


Description of the Infrastructure

MATERIALS AND EXPERTISE: The key offering of the KIT Nanoparticle Lab is synthesis and characterisation of pristine nanoparticles as well as nanoparticles within biological dispersions. Experienced staff scientists support the offered facilities leading to a unique portfolio of expertise from material scientists, physicists, chemists and cell biologists. Hence KIT Nanoparticle Lab aims to contribute cutting edge expertise in characterisation of nanoparticles and in particular regarding the interactions of nanoparticles with living systems. KIT claims such a combination of expertise and facilities to be unique in Europe.

KIT Nanoparticle Lab is operated at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT;, the merger of the National Research Centre “Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe” and the University of Karlsruhe. KIT is unique to the German research and higher education system and comprises over 8,000 people members of staff (plus an additional 2,000 researchers from associated companies and participants) and approximately 20,000 students. Both participants have started the KIT Centre for Nano & Micro Science and Technology in January 2008, with approximately 800 people active in the field of nano- and microtechnologies. This KIT Centre is involved in a multitude of national and international projects, among others the Excellence Centre for Functional Nanostructures, the two Helmholtz Programmes for Biointerfaces and for Nano- and Microsystems as well as in several EU-funded projects, some of which are focussing on analysis of nanostructures in the life sciences such as FRONTIERS or IMPART.

KIT Nanoparticle Lab benefits from the Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility (KNMF), a Helmholtz large scale facility (approx. 70 staff) and a unique facility in Germany and Europe. KNMF is open to academic and industrial users in Germany, Europe and worldwide with access based on scientific merit in compliance with international recommendations for user facilities. Both KIT Nanoparticle Lab’s and KNMF’s mission covers providing access to state-of-the-art installations and facilitating the individual interaction of users with leading scientists in order to develop user-specific solutions on demand. Thus, KIT Nanoparticle Lab offers users an opportunity to work with high-calibre researchers in a dynamic working environment. To all users, individually-tailored training in the use of specific analytical facilities will be provided as a minor component of the researcher’s visit, ensuring health and safety regulations are adhered to.

Several installations of KIT Nanoparticle Lab are integrated in the KIT-coordinated FP7-INFRA-2008 Integrating Activity EUMINAfab, the first European Research Infrastructure for micro and nano fabrication and characterisation, offering no-fee access to 36 installations from 8 participants in 8 European countries with the necessary technical support personnel in the areas of micro and nano patterning, thin film deposition, replication and characterisation.

Part of KIT Nanoparticle Lab are the installations at ANKA (Ångströmquelle Karlsruhe) as the National Synchrotron Radiation Source at KIT. As a Helmholtz large scale facility, ANKA is part of the national and European infrastructure offered to scientific and commercial users for performing excellent science and relevant technologies since 2003. In particular, ANKA is part of the European Integrated Activity ELISA, joining 17 research infrastructures of synchrotrons and FEL facilities around Europe.



The here offered KIT Nanoparticle Lab’s state-of the-art equipment for synthesis and characterisation of nanoparticles covers:


Particle Synthesis:

Installation 1: Karlsruhe Microwave Plasma Process (KMPP):

Gas phase reaction combined with microwave plasma for synthesis of nanoparticles with narrow particle size distribution. Process is developed at KIT and is truly unique.


Particle Characterisation in-situ & ex-situ

Installation 2: TRAPS-Experiment:

High resolution online time-of-flight particle mass spectrometer for high resolution determination of mass distribution of aerosols.


Installation 3: Particle Mass Spectrometer:

Online measurement system for size distributions, mass concentrations and particulate surfaces at high number densities.


Installation 4: Aberration corrected TEM:

Aberration corrected Transmission Electron Microscope TEM with high resolution below 1°nm, in-situ measurement capabilities and 3D tomography.


Installation 5: Electron microscopy (various techniques):

A wide range of electron microscopic and electron spectroscopic techniques, e.g. aberration-corrected Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM, resolution up to 0.08 nm), Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM), electron holography, Scanning Electron Microscopy under high and low vacuum conditions(SEM), Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) and monochromated Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS). Such an ensemble of high-range instruments is unique all over Europe.


Installation 6: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS):

Surface analysis technique providing both quantitative atomic concentration and chemical state information of the detected elements.


Installation 7: Auger electron spectroscopy:

Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) provides information about composition and to some extent chemical state within nanometer size of solid surfaces.


Installation 8: Laser Ablation ICP/MS:

Development of Laser ablation-ICP-MS for in-situ measurement of biological material exposed to inorganic nanopowders.


Installation 9: Bulk and Trace Analysis of Nanomaterials:

Bulk and Trace Analysis of Nanomaterials as base material or in combination with exposed cells or cell liquid by ICP-OES, ICP-MS, XRF, CGHE (N,O) or C-S-Determinator.


Installation 12: BL WERA with XPEEM-Experiment:

Photoelectron Photoemission Emission Electron Microscopy with soft X-rays (XPEEM) for element-specific laterally resolved information on the chemical (electronic) and magnetic state, combined in situ with other electron spectroscopies (with selectable degree of surface sensitivity).


Installation 13: Characterisation of Nanoparticles with Synchrotron Radiation at ANKA:

Synchrotron technology can be used e. g. for in-situ characterisation of size, shape, phase content, chemical analysis etc. of nanoparticles. This part of the in-situ characterisation facility will be located at the national synchrotron radiation source ANKA located at the KIT-Campus (North).


Particle Exposure Assessment

Installation 10: High-content high-throughput microscopy for the assessment of toxicological potential of nanomaterials:

Partly automated assay system using computer-based image analysis to study effects of chemicals in different cell lines and zebrafish embryos.


Installation 11: Karlsruhe Exposure System:

Correlation between particle diameter, material properties, number concentration and the biological response of airborne nanoparticles can be quantified.


Research supported by the infrastructure:

A large part of the research at KIT Centre for Nano & Micro Science and Technology is dedicated towards national and international user interaction, as can be seen by its three open user facilities ANKA, KNMF and EUMINAfab, which were established in 2003, 2008 and 2009, respectively. As such, KIT responds to a public need for open access to high-end and state-of-the-art technologies and services. These services are strongly supported by KIT´s comprehensive research portfolio. The focus of the research lies on nanoparticles, -materials and -structures with thorough characterisation of these being an integral part of the research work. KIT Centre for Nano & Micro Science and Technology’s research was lately reviewed by an external peer-review board with excellent grades.


Specific projects of the past and the future can be grouped under the 4 components as follows:

Particle Synthesis:

Synthesis and processing of nanoscale anode materials by Inert gas condensation, by Microwave Plasma Synthesis or Chemical Vapour Synthesis. Synthesis of nano-composites for hydrogen storage by wet chemical synthesis, Sol-gel process, Chemical Vapour Synthesis, Microwave Plasma Synthesis or High energy ball milling.


Particle Characterisation in situ & ex situ:

Characterisation of nanoscale electrode materials by element analysis (ICP), surface analysis (LA-ICP-MS,XPS, AFM, STM), electron microscopy (HR-TEM, EELS, EDX, SEM), synchrotron methods (XRD, SAXS, XAS [Remark: XAS is used as a common name for both, EXAFS and XANES.], EXAFS, XANES, PES, μ-PES, ARPES, μ-ARPES, μ-XAS, SXMCD, μ-SXMCD [Remark: one might instead summarize the μ-methods by «XPEEM»]), thermal analysis (TGA-MS, DSC). Extensive characterisation of nano-composites for hydrogen storage via HR-TEM and synchrotron methods. Characterisation of novel materials at the Nano scale with atomic precision within the projects of KNMF.


Particle Exposure Assessment:

Extensive experience with a Zebra fish screening and stock facility with a capacity of more than 300.000 fish.


Services currently on offer and scientific highlights:

KIT Nanoparticles Lab offers a dynamic interdisciplinary research environment, the particular strength of which is the close collaboration of scientists from a range of disciplines, specifically material scientists, physicists, chemists and cell biologists, as well as the availability of full technical support when accessing the core facilities and analytical equipment.

KIT Nanoparticles Lab provides service from two KNMF laboratories (“KNMF lab for microscopy and spectroscopy” as well as “KNMF lab for synchrotron characterization”). The services for users of KNMF cover almost all accompanying activities, such as i) general consultancy for interested parties, ii) pre-proposal check, iii) technical feasibility check, iv) quality control, v) data evaluation & processing and vi) final reporting to supporting the final report. KIT has formalized its services by establishing user offices and standardized operating procedures (SOP) for ANKA, KNMF and EUMINAfab, from which the present project and its users will significantly benefit.


KIT Centre for Nano & Micro Science and Technology recent highlights include:

Particle Synthesis:

Establishment of the microwave plasma process to produce Nano particulate powders with very narrow particle size distribution (mostly < 10 nm) with reduced particle growth and without agglomeration (Journal of Nanoparticle Research (2006) 8: 417–428).


Particle Characterisation in-situ & ex-situ:

Transmission electron microscope and electron tomography were utilized to visualize gold nimrods with a fixed diameter (6−7 nm) and tuneable aspect ratios from 3 to 30. (ACS Nano, 2008, 2(6), 1205-1212). The average particle size and size distribution of highly dispersed platinum nanoparticles were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Combined focused ion beam and SEM demonstrated that platinum nanoparticles were taken up into HT29 cells in their particulate form. The chemical composition of the particles within the cells was confirmed by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (Chem. Res. in Toxicology 22, 649 (2009)).


Particle Exposure Assessment:

The potentiated toxicity of man-sized V2O3 material with a needle-like structure with diameters of less than 30nm and variable lengths compared to bulk material was demonstrated in human endow- and epithelial lung cells(Environmental Science and Technology, 41(2007) S.331-36).