Vermiculite decorated with copper nanoparticles: Novel antibacterial hybrid material

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Vermiculite decorated with copper nanoparticles is a new antibacterial material that was prepared in this study through ion-exchange process and hydrogen reduction. The replacement of magnesium ions in interlayer structure was carried out using concentrated copper sulfate solutions at elevated temperature. Copper ions were reduced to elemental copper at 400–600 °C using hydrogen as the reducing agent. During the reduction process copper diffused primarily to vermiculite surface regions and formed copper nanoparticles with a broad range of sizes, from ∼1 to 400 nm. Strong adhesion of copper nanoparticles to the vermiculite carrier makes this hybrid very stable and durable. The new vermiculite-metallic copper hybrid material shows strong antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus at 37 °C. Vermiculite is an inexpensive mineral that is very stable under a wide range of industrial and environmental conditions, and extensively used as filler in fireproof materials, plastics, paints and lightweight concrete, so the addition of copper as an antibacterial agent opens new avenues for the application of vermiculite in consumer products and other areas.

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Applied Surface Science