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Journal of applied toxicology : JAT

Adhesive force between graphene nanoscale flakes and living biological cells.


PMID 28485473

Abstract

We report on a measurement technique that quantifies the adhesive force between multi-layers of graphene flakes and the cell wall of live Escherichia coli cells using atomic force microscopy (AFM) in-fluid Peak Force- Quantitative Nanomechanical Mapping mode. To measure the adhesive force, we made use of the negative charge of E. coli cells to allow them to stick to positively charged surfaces, such as glass or silicon, that were covered by poly-L-Lysine. With this approach, cells were held in place for AFM characterization. Both pristine graphene (PG) flakes and functionalized graphene (FG) flakes were put on the E. coli cells and measurements of lateral size, flake thickness, and adhesion were made. Using this approach, the measured values of the adhesive force between multi-layers of graphene flakes (total thickness of 50 nm) and E. coli was determined to be equal or greater than 431 ± 65pN for (PG) and 694 ± 98pN for the (FG). More interestingly, the adhesive force of a graphene flake (thickness 1.3 nm) with the cell is determined to be equal or greater than 38.2 ± 16.4pN for the (PG) and 34.8 ± 15.3pN for the (FG). These interaction values can play an important role in determining and understanding the possible toxicity of graphene flakes. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.