Analytical Contract Lab Providing Particle Size and Characterization Testing Services

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Particle Technology Labs Announces 25 Year Anniversary

Particle Technology Labs, the particle technology and research advisory company of choice for the world’s leading pharmaceutical, industrial, public sector and scientific organizations is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

Since the beginning, PTL’s philosophy has been anchored to the premise that for every particle characterization need, there is an optimal scientific solution that they can provide. As they celebrate their 25th year, they take great pride in continuing to progress in their industry, staying on top of the most current technologies and instrumentation while continuing to grow as a company.

In a statement, President Richard J. Karuhn said, “2017 marked another exciting year of incredible growth across virtually all of our business segments. We continued to expand our sales and customer base at double-digit rates, and invest in our laboratory infrastructure and staffing in order to support this sustained growth. At PTL, we are committed to positioning our laboratory as offering a comprehensive array of advanced analyses for particle characterization. To us, this means continuously delivering business value to our clients by providing comprehensive and innovative solutions, excellent customer service, expert knowledge in the field of particle technology, and a commitment to analytical integrity. We greatly appreciate your continued business and trust in Particle Technology Labs and look forward to fulfilling your particle characterization needs for many more years to come.”

Particle Technology Labs’ contract facility is FDA-registered, and is a proven cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) compliant laboratory, in accordance with 21 CFR, Part 210 and 211. They are DEA licensed and approved to handle Schedule II through V Controlled Substances and hold an ATF permit for analysing pyrotechnics. Their trained chemists perform routine and advanced material characterization testing and analysis services, conduct method development, validation and transfer protocols, and solve complex problems for clients from a variety of industries. Services include particle size distribution analysesgas adsorption & porosimetry analysesmicroscopy servicesnanotechnology servicespowder flowabilitythermal analyses and zeta potential analysis.

PTL can be visited online at


PTL and JAXA – Space Water Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis

Over the past twenty-five years, Particle Technology Labs has received tens of thousands of different sample types from all kinds of industries. From pharmaceuticals, to food, to municipalities, it would be a tough challenge to find a product or industry PTL has not touched in some way. However, once in a great while, a request to analyze something very unusual will come in and a palatable wave of excitement can be felt throughout the laboratory.

It may seem rather surprising that the excitement all started with a request to analyze water. Something so intrinsic that we see and use every day suddenly became extraordinary when correspondence regarding this request started arriving in our in-boxes. Phrases such as, “launched by rocket,” “transported from ISS” (International Space Station), and “for purpose of human space exploration” seemed more like a work of science fiction than an actual request for analysis.

The water samples belong to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, Japan’s national aerospace agency similar to our NASA here in the United States. This is part of a research project developed by JAXA studying how water can be treated and recycled on-board spacecraft that will be suitable for human consumption during future long-term space travel missions.

On April 17, 2017, we had the pleasure of hosting Tomoka Nagase, and Naoko Iwata, Engineer and Human Spaceflight Technology Directorates at JAXA. Dr. Nagase and Dr. Iwata visited PTL to observe the analysis of their space water in our laboratory.

The water, which is gathered from human waste and condensation, was treated with nanobubbles as a biocide, and then recycled back into potable water.

Presently, water is being recycled in space. However, there are some issues with the current processes.

JAXA’s study of nanobubbles is showing promise as an improved method to recycle water. So far, their findings have shown it is harmless to humans and has been proven to be effective against E. coli and other bacteria. There is no need to filter the water before drinking, and the process may be able to maintain a longer period of disinfecting performance.

In December of 2016, several samples of JAXA’s treated water were launched and stowed on the International Space Station. The first of these samples arrived back to Earth in April and was shipped to PTL where we analyzed the water for concentration and distribution of nanobubbles using Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis. The water also underwent other testing by JAXA outside of PTL’s laboratory. Over the next two years, remaining samples will be returned from space on a scheduled basis and tested for antimicrobial effectiveness and performance over time.

Particle Technology Labs is very proud to have been included as a small part in JAXA’s mission, which may change the way water is processed and recycled in space.

To learn more about JAXA, please visit

Dynamic Vapor Sorption System (DVS)

PTL’s newest instrument, the Surface Measurement Systems DVS Intrinsic is a highly sensitive, accurate means for determining the moisture sorption properties of a material. This can provide critical information on the stability, processing, performance, and storage of materials. The analysis is applicable to  pharmaceuticals, food products, packaging, personal care products, fibers, building materials and agricultural materials.

Dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) is a gravimetric technique that measures the quantity, and how quickly water vapor is adsorbed and/or absorbed by a material, such as cement, or an active pharmaceutical ingredient. The DVS system works by flowing precisely controlled concentrations of water vapors in dry air over a sample at a known flow rate and temperature. The sample rests on a digital microbalance which detects the sorption/desorption of water vapor through the increase or decrease in mass of the material as the relative humidity (RH) varies.

Accurate measurements are achieved by controlling the temperature and humidity electronically, allowing excellent instrument baseline stability as well as accurate control of the generated relative humidity. The DVS instrument provides a relatively quick way of obtaining the water sorption and desorption isotherm of the sample (typically in a few days) compared to traditional methods (typically weeks to months).  The DVS can also perform isoactivity measurements in which materials are kept under constant RH conditions while linearly or stepwise varying the temperature.

Our DVS accommodates a wide variety of sample geometries and allows sorption behavior to be accurately determined on very small sample sizes (typically 50-100 mg). Sample masses up to around 3 grams and with dimensions as large as 15mm can also be analyzed.  The relative humidity levels can be varied between 0-95%, while the operational temperature ranges from 20-40°C.

Sample DVS Intrinsic Data Plot – Milk powder, two cycles, showing amorphous recrystallization.


DVS Intrinsic Applications
Studying hygroscopicity of powders, fibers and solids
Kinetics of water sorption and desorption
Water induced morphology changes
Food shelf-life prediction studies
Effects of moisture on texture of materials
Accelerated stability studies of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)

Materials Studied
Pharmaceuticals: powders, tablets, APIs and excipient materials
Food: powders, processed food, biscuits
Natural Materials: grains/seeds, wood
Building Materials: aggregates, cement, ceramics
Personal Care Products: cosmetics, hair care, contact lenses
Packaging Materials: paper, plastics

To find out more about DVS or other particle characterization services available at Particle Technology Labs, please contact us at 1-630-403-0127.

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

Particle Technology Labs offers an encompassing array of particle size and characterization services, providing key information for research, formulation and manufacturing purposes across many different industry segments.

When it comes to imaging sample materials, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is one of the most widely used analytical tools providing profound depth of field and detail in images of microscopic materials.

Particle Characterization Chemist Michael Vinakos on PTL’s system, the JEOL NeoScope II JCM-6000 Benchtop SEM

PTL’s system, the JEOL NeoScope II JCM-6000 Benchtop SEM, produces magnifications of 10 – 60,000x for secondary electron images, and 10 – 30,000x for backscattered electron images. This allows a high definition view of pharmaceuticals, fibers, abrasives, and other microscopic materials for many industries including pharmaceutical, environmental, aerospace, chemical, and others.

Vivid images of the topography of a material’s surface provide very important information including process characterization, compositional differences, morphology and weathering processes. These are just a few of many applications available with the use of SEM imaging.

Information from SEM can stand alone as a powerful tool in the research and development of your material, or complement the data obtained through other physical characterization analyses such as particle size, porosity, BET surface area and other analysis offered at PTL. “We have found that using SEM analysis helps provide further insight for our clients as it can provide a visual representation of a particle’s characteristics and an orthogonal analytical survey technique to other commonly used particle sizing equipment. For our clients, a picture can truly be worth a thousand words when attempting to describe the size and shape of particles.” says Bill Kopesky, Director of Analytical Services.

Features of our SEM instrument, the JEOL NeoScope II JCM-6000 Benchtop SEM, include:

Magnifications of 10 – 60,000x for secondary electron images and 10 – 30,000x for backscattered electron images (sample dependent).

Dual frame imaging which allows for a comparison between two images.

A motorized tilt/rotation specimen holder allowing for focused and optimized sampleorientation thus highlighting features of interest.

Accommodation of sample sizes up to 70 mm in diameter and 50 mm in height.

Contact PTL today for more information about Scanning Electron Microscopy and how it can be a valuable tool in the research, development or manufacturing of your material.

Particle Technology Labs & Engineers Without Borders USA Provide Water to Villagers in Sabhung, Nepal


Particle Technology Labs is very proud to announce a recent contribution to an Engineers Without Borders USA project. Engineers Without Borders USA is an organization which works with developing communities around the world to empower them to sustainably meet their basic human needs. This is achieved through several projects including building water supply facilities, civil works, sanitation, agriculture, energy and other municipal facilities.

The Project

The Hartford Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA was tasked to design and implement a potable water system for a community in Sabhung, Nepal. They planned to accomplish this by constructing the system with the aid of village residents. Once the water system was functional, the engineers would educate and train citizens to be self-sufficient in maintaining the newly constructed system.

Prior to having this water system, women and children in Sabhung had to collect and physically carry water on their backs from several difficult sources, which included traveling very long distances over treacherous terrain on foot. The journey took hours to complete, resulting in a significant impact to their daily life.

Particle Technology Labs Involvement

Engineers Without Borders USA contacted Particle Technology Labs to help with the important issue of water quality. Once the new water system was put into place, a problem arose. During monsoon season, the water became more turbid than normal. Standard sedimentation methods were not successful due to the broad particle size range and composition of the particles. Particle characterization testing was needed to determine the particle size and concentration, as well as the density of the particles suspended in the water. PTL used their years of experience in the field to perform this testing on the organization’s behalf. Information gained from this testing was then used in the design and creation of a filtration system to effectively clean the water as it is pumped to a central location within Sabhung.

Chemist Jakub Strycharz performing particle size and concentration analysis on PTL’s Particle Sizing System’s Accusizer 780/780AD Instrumentation

“It’s very gratifying to lend our analytical services to an organization whose main objective is to improve the quality of life for people in developing countries,” states William Kopesky, Director of Analytical Services at PTL.   “It is easy to take for granted something as basic as clean water in our everyday lives. It is a tremendous opportunity for us to see directly how our results can impact a community in such a positive way.”


Since successful completion of the project, villagers have enjoyed their new and dramatically more convenient water supply. Through this improvement, they have used the reclaimed time for new purposes. Children can now spend more time in school acquiring a better education, which will enhance the future of their entire community. Sewing and weaving centers have been built where women are now able to earn an income by selling their crafts instead of spending hours to obtain water. The outcome has been truly dynamic both socially and economically for the community.

Particle Technology Labs is very pleased to have been able to help bring clean water to Sabhung, Nepal. This project also met the Engineers Without Borders USA’s continuing mission to improve the lives of those who had previously lacked basic human needs. PTL is honored to have been a part of a project that has given so much to an entire community.


A short film about this project and the people of Sabhung can be viewed at the following link.


To learn more about this project and the Engineers Without Borders organization, visit the following websites.

Hartford Professional Chapter
Engineers Without Borders USA

Engineers Without Borders USA

To read more about how PTL’s particle characterization services can benefit you, please contact us at 630.403.0127.