Organic semiconductors, including graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4, CN), represent an important class of materials for the development of novel antimicrobial or biomedical technologies. Of principal interest is the ability of these materials to catalyze the reduction of elemental oxygen to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Here, we describe the fabrication of photoactive van der Waals heterojunctions incorporating 1,4,5,8-naphthalene tetracarboxylic dianhydride (NTCDA) and CN. The composite heterojunction systems were characterized by a combination of physical (TEM, SEM, pXRD), spectroscopic (FT-IR, XPS, DRUV, photoluminescence, TCSPC) and kinetic experiments. Electronic interactions between the two components of the heterojunction increase the rate of photochemical production of H2O2 from elemental oxygen by 410%, relative to samples of pure CN. Mechanistic analysis reveals that interaction of NTCDA with the surface of CN modifies the mechanism of H2O2 formation in the heterojunction photocatalysts. The photochemical production of H2O2 by irradiation of the most active heterojunction composition is sufficient to reduce the viability of E. coli O157:H7, S. aureus and Ps. aeruginosa PAO1 by 99%. Importantly, H2O2 production by the NTCDA/CN heterojunctions suppresses Ps. aeruginosa biofilm formation, even at light exposure doses that had a lesser impact on overall planktonic cell growth.
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Thurston, John H.; Vitale-Sullivan, Molly; Koshkimbayeva, Azhar; Smith, Tyler R.; and Cornell, Kenneth A.. (2021). "1,4,5,8-Naphthalene Tetracarboxylate Dianhydride/g-C3N4 van der Waals Heterojunctions Exhibit Enhanced Photochemical H2O2 Production and Antimicrobial Activity". RSC Advances, 11(56), 35425-35435. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1RA07473C