Plant Extract Used to Make Anti-Microbial Nanomaterials

Nanomaterial researchers find a route to sustainable, eco-friendly nanoparticles for use as an industrial raw material.

Plant Extract Used to Make Anti-Microbial Nanomaterials

Because of the unique properties of nanoparticles, nanotechnology is becoming a vital field of research with vast potential in numerous applications. This is because nanoscale materials exhibit improved optical, magnetic, catalytic, and electrical characteristics when compared to their bulk equivalents.

However, conventional techniques for creating nanoparticles frequently entail the use of dangerous chemicals, high temperatures, and energy-intensive procedures, which raises questions about the environment and possible toxicity.

Consequently, there is growing interest in developing efficient and sustainable processes for manufacturing nanomaterials. For this reason, green synthesis has drawn considerable interest as a potential production technique and solution to these problems.

Green synthesis, sometimes referred to as sustainable or eco-friendly synthesis, is the process of creating nanoparticles by using natural resources, proteins, or materials that are safe for the environment. Compared to traditional processes, it has a number of benefits, such as lower energy usage, biodegradability, and reduced use of hazardous chemicals, all while maintaining the possibility of large-scale production.

A key part of this field of study has looked to obtaining nanoparticles from plants, fungi, bacteria, and other natural sources.

This has led to a breakthrough where nanomaterial researchers from an international team finding a way to produce copper oxide nanoparticles from the noni plant (morinda citrifolia), a fruit-bearing tree in the coffee family which is widespread throughout much of Asia. Nanomaterials with a proven anti-microbial properties.

The noni plant (morinda citrifolia).

“The scientists extracted substances from the plant's leaves and mixed them with a copper sulfate solution, using sodium hydroxide as a catalyst,” explains Kate Sivess-Symes, a nanomaterial journalist at Nano-Magazine. “This process led to the formation of copper oxide nanoparticles, with the noni extract serving to stabilise these particles. Like other copper oxide nanomaterials, the These nanoparticles' efficacy in fighting gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and various fungi were tested, comparing their effectiveness to the broad-spectrum antibiotic chloramphenicol.”

This novel process resulted in the production of spherical, stable nanoparticles of copper oxide that ranged in size from 20 to 50 nanometers (about 100th the thickness of a red blood cell), which demonstrated improved antibacterial activity that was on par with that of chloramphenicol – a standard antibacterial medication.

As the study, now published in the journal Nature states, “The synthesized CuO NPs have an antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.” Adding that, “CuO NPs has been proven to be efficient against three distinct types of fungi: Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, and Penicillium frequentans.”

Copper oxide nanoparticles are of interest in many areas of science,” notes Alexandre Vetcher, PhD, the Deputy Director of the Nanotechnology Center at RUDN University who participated in the study. “Biosynthetic nanoparticles are produced through biological processes from bacteria, fungi, or plant extracts. The importance of such nanoparticles lies in their potential for sustainable, effective, and biocompatible solutions in health care and environmental protection, as well as in materials science and energy.”

Nanomaterial researchers are becoming increasingly interested in metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs) because of their ability to link atomic and bulk structures. NPs have distinct physicochemical properties, such as high surface area, large pore size, considerable reactivity, and particle shape. These are properties which make them useful feedstocks for manufacturing products in the information and communication industries (including the electrical and optoelectronic sectors), energy technology (including batteries and photoelectric cells) food technology, and medical products (including various medications and drug delivery systems, diagnostics, and medical technology).

The widespread application of nanomaterials in the manufacturing sector, even in everyday products such as food packaging, often goes unnoticed. However, nanoparticles are a cost-efficient way for companies to improve basic products or to provide unique selling points – such as anti-microbial properties.

If nanotechnology researchers are further able to find ways to turn nanomaterials into useful commercial feedstocks while also making them environmentally friendly and sustainable then there is little doubt that that nanoparticles and other nanoscale raw materials will soon become an even more practical solution for industry.

Photo credit: Freepik, Wikimedia, Harryarts, & Freepik