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Langmuir. 2012 Aug 21;28(33):12364-72. doi: 10.1021/la3023908. Epub 2012 Aug 6.

Lateral dimension-dependent antibacterial activity of graphene oxide sheets.

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School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


Graphene oxide (GO) is a promising precursor to produce graphene-family nanomaterials for various applications. Their potential health and environmental impacts need a good understanding of their cellular interactions. Many factors may influence their biological interactions with cells, and the lateral dimension of GO sheets is one of the most relevant material properties. In this study, a model bacterium, Escherichia coli ( E. coli ), was used to evaluate the antibacterial activity of well-dispersed GO sheets, whose lateral size differs by more than 100 times. Our results show that the antibacterial activity of GO sheets toward E. coli cells is lateral size dependent. Larger GO sheets show stronger antibacterial activity than do smaller ones, and they have different time- and concentration-dependent antibacterial activities. Large GO sheets lead to most cell loss after 1 h incubation, and their concentration strongly influences antibacterial activity at relative low concentration (<10 μg/mL). In contrast, when incubating with small GO sheets up to 4 h, the inactivation rate of E. coli cells continues increasing. The increase of small GO sheet concentration also results in persistent increases in their antibacterial activity. In this study, GO sheets with different lateral sizes are all well dispersed, and their oxidation capacity toward glutathione is similar, consistent with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and ultraviolet-visible absorption spectroscopy results. This suggests the lateral size-dependent antibacterial activity of GO sheets is caused by neither their aggregation states, nor oxidation capacity. Atomic force microscope analysis of GO sheets and cells shows that GO sheets interact strongly with cells. Large GO sheets more easily cover cells, and cells cannot proliferate once fully covered, resulting in the cell viability loss observed in the followed colony counting test. In contrast, small GO sheets adhere to the bacterial surfaces, which cannot effectively isolate cells from environment. This study highlights the importance of tailoring the lateral dimension of GO sheets to optimize the application potential with minimal risks for environmental health and safety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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