The Atomic Structure of Ti2C and Ti3C2 MXenes is Responsible for Their Antibacterial Activity Toward E. coli Bacteria

Agnieszka Maria Jastrzębska, Ewa Karwowska, Tomasz Wojciechowski, Wanda Ziemkowska, Anita Rozmysłowska, Leszek Chlubny, Andrzej Olszyna

The expanded Ti2C and Ti3C2 MXene phases were synthesized from their parent Ti2AlC and Ti3AlC2 MAX phases using the same conditions of the classical acidic aluminum extraction method. The assumption for the study was that the expanded Ti2C and Ti3C2 MXenes are composed of the same atoms and if are synthesized from MAX phases using the same conditions of the classical acidic aluminum extraction method, the observed bio-effects can be related only to the changes in their structures. The scanning electron microscope investigations indicated that the expanded Ti2C and Ti3C2 sheets formed the specific network of slit-shaped nano-pores. The x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA-XPS) showed almost no difference in surface chemistry of Ti2C and Ti3C2 MXenes. The high-resolution transmission electron microscope investigations revealed, however, differences in atomic structure of the individual Ti2C and Ti3C2 sheets. Measured distance between Ti-C atomic layers in Ti2C was 9.76 Å and was larger by 0.53 Å in comparison with Ti3C2 (9.23 Å). Our investigations of bioactive properties toward model gram-negative Escherichia coli bacterial strain showed that the Ti2C MXene did not influence the viability of bacteria. Contrarily, the Ti3C2 MXene showed antibacterial properties. The results of the study indicate that the structure at the atomic scale may play a key role in the bioactivity of MXenes of the same chemical composition, but different stoichiometry, just like in case of Ti2C and Ti3C2.

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