The Zetasizer Nano in review…

image of bearded sad man, waving goodbye to the viewer, with a white hankerchief on out-stretched arm

When we introduced the Zetasizer Nano at in 2003 it was ground-breaking. There were several reasons for it. For instance, a step-change development that created an entirely new generation of lab equipment. At the same time simple-to-use, yet sophisticated light scattering equipment suitable for any scientific laboratory. It went through a few revisions, and as a result of 17 years of service we are ready to send the Nano to its well-deserved retirement. However, it is with a slightly sad feeling, and yet the joy of the birth of a new series will help to overcome the grief. As a result, I would like to give a brief ode to the classic Zetasizer – for all those dedicated customers who contributed to the success of the Nano.

How it became so popular?

Over 40 years ago, the Malvern correlator opened doors to a field of research and development investigating ever smaller particles, and continuously advancing since then. For example, the Zetasizer Nano was the first light scattering system that combined dynamic, electrophoretic, and static light scattering in one single laboratory system. And dynamic light scattering for quickly measuring the size of nanoparticles and molecules was its core strength. Not only the highest sensitivity but also the widest concentration range came from the then novel Non-Invasive Back Scattering. Oh, and it also won a design award, for the unique attractive appearance.

It took barely a few years and the Zetasizer was the de facto standard in light scattering. Of course, the extremely easy-to-use software and a range of novel accessories (the capillary cell) as well as advanced software (macros, reports, custom calculations) and novel protein features allowed for continued success and growth. Then the excellent technical support of our teams around the world, our distributors… In summary, there were many contributions – plus a wide range of applications.

The Top 10 most-cited papers with Zetasizer Nano data

One place where the popularity of the Zetasizer Nano really sparkled was in scientific publications. A large number of universities around the globe have a Zetasizer Nano on campus. As a result, many research projects took advantage of the system. Therefore it is intriguing to see what kind of publications are out there, and which ones are cited by peers. The biggest complication is the extreme breadth of fields where light scattering has been cited. Here are the top 10 most-cited papers where the article mentioned use of the Zetasizer Nano, accurate as of 29June2020. (My apologies in advance if you are not on the list, as I was only able to go through some of the >64k hits on google scholar).

Firstly, the Top 10, part 1

In all of them size is of key interest. Size influences properties like toxicity, dissolution, ion release kinetics, ion removal capacity, and this is where DLS is perfect to for example also monitor nanoparticle synthesis.

Top 10, part 2

And then zeta potential enters the picture, where particles behave differently when exposed to an electric field. This is often useful to investigate formulation stability, confirm a surface reaction, or alter nanoparticle surface charge.

Just these Top 10 span from metal oxides, colloidal silver, chitosan nanoparticles, drug delivery, neutraceuticals, to food chemistry and exosomes. Couple that with the general increase in nanoparticle research, and the Zetasizer Nano was the perfect solution for its time.

What’s next?

Mysterious and vague image of the new Zetasizer Advance series about to be launched in July 2020

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And the Zetasizer Nano has certainly been both a vanguard and pillar of Malvern Panalytical’s reputation. That is why we are especially excited to count down to welcome the latest addition to the Zetasizer family. The brand new Advance series launches on 28 July 2020. Please join Dr. Mike Kaszuba as he presents the line up of the new Zetasizer Advance series. He will provide an exclusive preview of our plans for the ongoing evolution of Zetasizer Advance. What is so exciting? We will share details of our continuing investment in the development of our flagship product portfolio.

The Zetasizer, long may it live!


If you have any questions, please email me at Thanks! While opinions expressed are generally those of the author, some parts may have been modified by our editorial team.