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An environmentally benign antimicrobial nanoparticle based on a silver-infused lignin core

Richter, Alexander P.; Brown, Joseph S.; Bharti, Bhuvnesh; Wang, Amy; Gangwal, Sumit; Houck, Keith; Cohen Hubal, Elaine A.; Paunov, Vesselin N.; Stoyanov, Simeon D.; Velev, Orlin D.


Alexander P. Richter

Joseph S. Brown

Bhuvnesh Bharti

Amy Wang

Sumit Gangwal

Keith Houck

Elaine A. Cohen Hubal

Vesselin N. Paunov

Simeon D. Stoyanov

Orlin D. Velev


Silver nanoparticles have antibacterial properties, but their use has been a cause for concern because they persist in the environment. Here, we show that lignin nanoparticles infused with silver ions and coated with a cationic polyelectrolyte layer form a biodegradable and green alternative to silver nanoparticles. The polyelectrolyte layer promotes the adhesion of the particles to bacterial cell membranes and, together with silver ions, can kill a broad spectrum of bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and quaternary-amine-resistant Ralstonia sp. Ion depletion studies have shown that the bioactivity of these nanoparticles is time-limited because of the desorption of silver ions. High-throughput bioactivity screening did not reveal increased toxicity of the particles when compared to an equivalent mass of metallic silver nanoparticles or silver nitrate solution. Our results demonstrate that the application of green chemistry principles may allow the synthesis of nanoparticles with biodegradable cores that have higher antimicrobial activity and smaller environmental impact than metallic silver nanoparticles.


Richter, A. P., Brown, J. S., Bharti, B., Wang, A., Gangwal, S., Houck, K., …Velev, O. D. (2015). An environmentally benign antimicrobial nanoparticle based on a silver-infused lignin core. Nature nanotechnology, 10(9), 817-823.

Acceptance Date Jun 9, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 13, 2015
Publication Date Sep 3, 2015
Deposit Date Aug 27, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Nature nanotechnology
Print ISSN 1748-3387
Electronic ISSN 1748-3395
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 9
Pages 817-823
Keywords Antimicrobial nanoparticles; Silver nanoparticles; Lignin nanoparticles
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a description of an article which has been published in: Nature nanotechnology, 2015, v.10.


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