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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Alginic Acid-Aided Dispersion of Carbon Nanotubes, Graphene, and Boron Nitride Nanomaterials for Microbial Toxicity Testing.

  • Author(s): Wang, Ying
  • Mortimer, Monika
  • Chang, Chong Hyun
  • Holden, Patricia A
  • et al.

Robust evaluation of potential environmental and health risks of carbonaceous and boron nitride nanomaterials (NMs) is imperative. However, significant agglomeration of pristine carbonaceous and boron nitride NMs due to strong van der Waals forces renders them not suitable for direct toxicity testing in aqueous media. Here, the natural polysaccharide alginic acid (AA) was used as a nontoxic, environmentally relevant dispersant with defined composition to disperse seven types of carbonaceous and boron nitride NMs, including multiwall carbon nanotubes, graphene, boron nitride nanotubes, and hexagonal boron nitride flakes, with various physicochemical characteristics. AA's biocompatibility was confirmed by examining AA effects on viability and growth of two model microorganisms (the protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila and the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa). Using 400 mg·L-1 AA, comparably stable NM (200 mg·L-1) stock dispersions were obtained by 30-min probe ultrasonication. AA non-covalently interacted with NM surfaces and improved the dispersibility of NMs in water. The dispersion stability varied with NM morphology and size rather than chemistry. The optimized dispersion protocol established here can facilitate preparing homogeneous NM dispersions for reliable exposures during microbial toxicity testing, contributing to improved reproducibility of toxicity results.

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