Graphene Induces Formation of Pores That Kill Spherical and Rod-Shaped Bacteria

Vy T.H. Pham, Vi Khanh Truong, Matthew D.J. Quinn, Shannon M. Notley, Yachong Guo, Vladimir A. Baulin, Mohammad Al Kobaisi, Russell J. Crawford, Elena P. Ivanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Citations (Scopus)


Pristine graphene, its derivatives, and composites have been widely reported to possess antibacterial properties. Most of the studies simulating the interaction between bacterial cell membranes and the surface of graphene have proposed that the graphene-induced bacterial cell death is caused either by (1) the insertion of blade-like graphene-based nanosheets or (2) the destructive extraction of lipid molecules by the presence of the lipophilic graphene. These simulation studies have, however, only take into account graphene-cell membrane interactions where the graphene is in a dispersed form. In this paper, we report the antimicrobial behavior of graphene sheet surfaces in an attempt to further advance the current knowledge pertaining to graphene cytotoxicity using both experimental and computer simulation approaches. Graphene nanofilms were fabricated to exhibit different edge lengths and different angles of orientation in the graphene sheets. These substrates were placed in contact with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, where it was seen that these substrates exhibited variable bactericidal efficiency toward these two pathogenic bacteria. It was demonstrated that the density of the edges of the graphene was one of the principal parameters that contributed to the antibacterial behavior of the graphene nanosheet films. The study provides both experimental and theoretical evidence that the antibacterial behavior of graphene nanosheets arises from the formation of pores in the bacterial cell wall, causing a subsequent osmotic imbalance and cell death. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8458-8467
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • bactericidal effect
  • edge densities
  • graphene nanosheet films
  • pore formation
  • single mean field simulation


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