Graphene Oxide Harnessed for Antibacterial Properties

A group of researchers in Italy are looking to graphene oxide for “green” anti-bacterial properties that could enhance medical devices and one day decrease the need for antibiotics to fight post-operative infections and reduce recovery times. Furthermore, the compound could be an important weapon in the fight against the growing issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Reporting on the researchers’ findings, Science Daily noted that the compound works by destroying bacteria before it enters the body. It does so by wrapping around bacteria and puncturing its membrane, which either inhibits bacterial growth or, most often, kills it.

Traditional methods of preventing infection include antibiotic therapy and using tools that are coated with silver, both of which present issues of toxicity to the environment. By comparision, however, graphene is more eco-friendly.

The report points out that graphene oxide proved most effective when paired with salt. Adding salt allowed the graphene oxide to wrap around bacteria, although an excessive amount caused the graphene to aggregate and fail to puncture the bacteria’s membrane.

As as next step, researchers now hope to apply the same work to fungus.