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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Jul 15;40(14):4360-6.

Antibacterial activity of fullerene water suspensions: effects of preparation method and particle size.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Chemistry, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, USA.


Fullerene research in biological systems has been hindered by the compound's relative insolubility in water. However, C60 molecules can be made to aggregate, forming stable fullerene water suspensions (FWS) whose properties differ from those of bulk solid C60. There are many different protocols for making FWS. This paper explores four of these methods and establishes the antibacterial activity of each resulting suspension, including a suspension made without intermediary solvents. The aggregates in each polydisperse suspension were separated by size using differential centrifugation and tested for antibacterial activity using Bacillus subtilis as a test organism. All suspensions exhibited relatively strong antibacterial activity. Fractions containing smaller aggregates had greater antibacterial activity, although the increase in toxicity was disproportionately higher than the associated increase in putative surface area. This suggests the need for improved understanding of the behavior of FWS towards organisms and in the environment to determine how C60 can be safely used and disposed.

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