Synthesis and characterization of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites and their enhanced antibacterial activity with visible light

  • The ​original ​version ​of ​this ​article ​was ​revised: The mid dots implying multiplication was erroneously deleted during the production process. It has been corrected.


Copper and zinc composite oxide (CuZnO) was synthesized successfully via a sol–gel method and modified by silane coupling agent to prepare CuZnO@graphene oxide (CuZnO@GO) nanocomposites, with CuZnO nanoparticles (NPs) distributed on the GO nanosheets. The structural properties of prepared CuZnO@GO nanocomposites were studied by FT-IR and XRD techniques. SEM and TEM analysis showed the spherical morphology of CuZnO NPs with a diameter of 20–40 nm. The optical properties of synthesized products were estimated through UV–Vis DRS and PL spectroscopy, which suggested that CuZnO@GO nanocomposites had a widened absorption range from UV to visible region and a lower photogenerated carrier recombination rate than that of pure CuZnO NPs. The antibacterial mechanism of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites was investigated using gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus as two model microorganisms. The antibacterial properties of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites on mixed bacteria were researched in the cooling water system. The results showed that when adding CuZnO@GO nanocomposites to E. coli or S. aureus suspension, the protein leakage after 20 h was 10.5 times or 8.3 times higher than that in the blank experiment. Furthermore, the antibacterial activity of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites in presence of visible light was found to be significantly enhanced as compared with control. Under visible light irradiation, the antibacterial rate of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites in circulating cooling water reached 99.09% when the mass fraction of GO was 17.5%, and more than 90% of bacteria were inactivated by 100 mg·L1 CuZnO@GO nanocomposites in 60 min after four recycled runs.

Schematic of antibacterial mechanism of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites


  • CuZnO@GO nanocomposites with excellent photocatalytic antibacterial activity were synthesized.

  • The antibacterial mechanism of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites was investigated using pure bacteria.

  • The antibacterial application of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites for complex bacteria was researched.

  • After four recycled runs, the antibacterial rate of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites was still up to 90%.

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This research was financially supported by Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China (ZR201702140013).

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Correspondence to Fang Liu.

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Li, X., Che, Y., Lv, Y. et al. Synthesis and characterization of CuZnO@GO nanocomposites and their enhanced antibacterial activity with visible light. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol 89, 672–684 (2019).

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  • CuZnO@GO nanocomposites
  • Visible light
  • Photocatalytic antibacterial activity
  • Antibacterial mechanism
  • Water treatment