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Suppressing Bacterial Interaction with Copper Surfaces through Graphene and Hexagonal-Boron Nitride Coatings

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journal contribution
posted on 01.04.2015 by Carolina Parra, Francisco Montero-Silva, Ricardo Henríquez, Marcos Flores, Carolina Garín, Cristian Ramírez, Macarena Moreno, Jonathan Correa, Michael Seeger, Patricio Häberle
Understanding biological interaction with graphene and hexagonal-boron nitride (h-BN) membranes has become essential for the incorporation of these unique materials in contact with living organisms. Previous reports show contradictions regarding the bacterial interaction with graphene sheets on metals. Here, we present a comprehensive study of the interaction of bacteria with copper substrates coated with single-layer graphene and h-BN. Our results demonstrate that such graphitic coatings substantially suppress interaction between bacteria and underlying Cu substrates, acting as an effective barrier to prevent physical contact. Bacteria do not “feel” the strong antibacterial effect of Cu, and the substrate does not suffer biocorrosion due to bacteria contact. Effectiveness of these systems as barriers can be understood in terms of graphene and h-BN impermeability to transfer Cu2+ ions, even when graphene and h-BN domain boundary defects are present. Our results seem to indicate that as-grown graphene and h-BN films could successfully protect metals, preventing their corrosion in biological and medical applications.