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First Observation of Physically Capturing and Maneuvering Bacteria using Magnetic Clays

Liu, Ting-Yu, Chen, Chieh-Ling, Lee, Yi-Chen, Chan, Tzu-Yi, Wang, Yuh-Lin, Lin, Jiang-Jen
ACS applied materials 2016 v.8 no.1 pp. 411-418
Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria, coprecipitation, fever, heat, iron oxides, magnetic fields, mica, montmorillonite, nanoparticles, scanning electron microscopes
A new class of nanohybrids composed of structurally exfoliated silicate platelets and magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles was synthesized and shown to be capable of capturing microbes in liquid microbiological media. Nanoscale silicate platelets with an approximate thickness of 1.0 nm were prepared from the naturally occurring mineral clays montmorillonite and mica; these clays yielded platelets with lateral dimensions on the order of 80–100 nm and 300–1000 nm, respectively. The magnetic Fe₃O₄ nanoparticles, approximately 8.3 nm in diameter, were coated in situ onto the silicates during the synthesis process, which involved the coprecipitation of aqueous Fe²⁺/Fe³⁺ salts. Owing to the high surface area-to-volume ratios and the presence of ionically charged groups (i.e., SiO–Na⁺), the silicate nanoplatelets exhibited intense noncovalent bonding forces between Fe₃O₄ nanoparticles and the surrounding microorganisms. The Fe₃O₄-on-nanoplatelet nanohybrids enabled the entrapment of bacterial cells in liquid microbiological media. These captured bacteria formed bacterial aggregates on the order of micrometers that became physically maneuverable under a magnetic field. This phenomenon was demonstrated with Staphylococcus aureus in liquid microbiological media by physically removing them using a magnetic bar; in two experimental examples, bacterial concentrations were reduced from 10⁶ to 10² and from 10⁴ to 10⁰ CFU/mL (colony formation unit/mL con). Under a scanning electron microscope, these bacteria appeared to have rough and wrinkled surfaces due to the accumulated silicate platelets. Furthermore, the external application of a high-frequency magnetic field completely destroyed these aggregated microbes by the magnetically induced heat. Hence, the newly developed nanohybrids were shown to be viable for physically capturing microbes and also for potential hyperthermia treatment applications.