Many of the biological applications and effects of nanomaterials are attributed to their ability to facilitate the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy is a direct and reliable method to identify and quantify free radicals in both chemical and biological environments. In this review, we discuss the use of ESR spectroscopy to study ROS generation mediated by nanomaterials, which have various applications in biological, chemical, and materials science. In addition to introducing the theory of ESR, we present some modifications of the method such as spin trapping and spin labeling, which ultimately aid in the detection of short-lived free radicals. The capability of metal nanoparticles in mediating ROS generation and the related mechanisms are also presented. Copyright © 2014, Food and Drug Administration, Taiwan. Published by Elsevier Taiwan LLC. All rights reserved.Grant: Acknowledgments: This work was supported by a regulatory science grant under the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nanotechnology CORES Program and by the Office of Cosmetics and Colors (CFSAN/FDA), and was supported in part by an appointment (W.H.) to the Research Program at the CFSAN administered by the ORISE. W.H. also acknowledges the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 21303153). The authors deeply appreciate Dr Michael F. Santillo's critical review of the paper.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.