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Acta Biomater. 2014 Oct;10(10):4474-83. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2014.06.005. Epub 2014 Jun 14.

Scalable production of microbially mediated zinc sulfide nanoparticles and application to functional thin films.

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Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA. Electronic address:
Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences Division, ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA.
Materials Science and Technology Division, ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA.
Environmental Science Division, ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA.
Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA.


A series of semiconducting zinc sulfide (ZnS) nanoparticles were scalably, reproducibly, controllably and economically synthesized with anaerobic metal-reducing Thermoanaerobacter species. These bacteria reduced partially oxidized sulfur sources to sulfides that extracellularly and thermodynamically incorporated with zinc ions to produce sparingly soluble ZnS nanoparticles with ∼5nm crystallites at yields of ∼5gl(-1)month(-1). A predominant sphalerite formation was facilitated by rapid precipitation kinetics, a low cation/anion ratio and a higher zinc concentration compared to background to produce a naturally occurring hexagonal form at the low temperature, and/or water adsorption in aqueous conditions. The sphalerite ZnS nanoparticles exhibited narrow size distribution, high emission intensity and few native defects. Scale-up and emission tunability using copper doping were confirmed spectroscopically. Surface characterization was determined using Fourier transform infrared and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopies, which confirmed amino acid as proteins and bacterial fermentation end products not only maintaining a nano-dimensional average crystallite size, but also increasing aggregation. The application of ZnS nanoparticle ink to a functional thin film was successfully tested for potential future applications.


Metal-reducing bacteria X513; Microbial synthesis; Thin films; ZnS nanoparticles

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