Photografting Graphene Oxide to Inert Membrane Materials to Impart Antibacterial Activity

Masashi Kaneda, Xinglin Lu, Wei Cheng, Xuechen Zhou, Roy Bernstein, Wei Zhang, Katsuki Kimura, Menachem Elimelech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Surface modification with bactericides is a promising approach to imparting membrane materials with biofouling resistance. However, chemical modification of membranes made from inert materials, such as polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and polysulfone, is challenging because of the absence of reactive functional groups on these materials. In this study, we develop a facile procedure using benzophenone as an anchor to graft biocidal graphene oxide (GO) to chemically inactive membrane materials. GO nanosheets are first functionalized with benzophenone through an amide coupling reaction. Then, benzophenone-functionalized GO nanosheets are irreversibly grafted to the inert membrane surfaces via benzophenone-initiated cross-linking under ultraviolet irradiation. The binding of GO to the membrane surface is confirmed by scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy. When exposed to a model bacterium (Escherichia coli), GO-functionalized PVDF and polysulfone membranes exhibit strong antibacterial activity, reducing the number of viable cells by 90% and 75%, respectively, compared to the number with the pristine membranes. Notably, this bactericidal effect is imparted to the membranes without compromising membrane permeability or solute retention properties. Our results highlight the potential application of benzophenone chemistry in membrane surface modification as well as its promise in developing antimicrobial surfaces for a variety of environmental applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 12 Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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