Aging of fullerene C₆₀ nanoparticle suspensions in the presence of microbes.
Despite the growing use of carbon nanomaterials in commercial applications, very little is known about the fate of these nanomaterials once they are released into the environment. The carbon-carbon bonding of spherical sp(2) hybridized fullerene (C60) forms a strong and resilient material that resists biodegradation. Moreover, C60 is widely reported to be bactericidal. Here however, we observe the changing properties of fullerene nanoparticle aggregates aged in the presence of microbes. C60 aggregates were observed to decrease in size with aging, while hydroxylation and photosensitized reactivity measured by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) increased, suggesting that chemically and/or biologically-mediated activity is capable of partially transforming fullerene structure and reactivity in the environment. However, stable-isotope-labeling C60 aggregates incubated with microbial cultures from aged suspensions for 203 days did not produce significant labeled carbon dioxide, despite significant reduction in aggregate radius for biological samples. These results suggest that either the rate of biodegradation of these particles is too slow to quantify or that the biologically-enhanced transformation of these particles does not occur through microbial biodegradation to carbon dioxide.
Chae, S-R; Hunt, DE; Ikuma, K; Yang, S; Cho, J; Gunsch, CK; Liu, J; Wiesner, MR
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