Antimicrobial activity of synthesized copper chalcogenides nanoparticles and plant extracts.

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Mbewana, Nokhanyo
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Chemical precipitation method is the most widely used of all methods for preparing good quality semiconductor nanoparticles. Several conditions are optimized for producing the desired size and shape of particles. The parameters such as capping molecule, precursor concentration, time and temperature were investigated using the colloidal hot injection method. The effect of capping agent was the first parameter investigated in the synthesis of copper selenide, copper sulphide and copper oxide nanoparticles. The capping agents of interest in this study were oleylamine (OLA) and trioctylphosphine (TOP), due to their ability to act as reducing agents, surfactant, solvent and enhancement of colloidal stabilization. The use of oleylamine and trioctylphosphine were carried out at 220 °C for 30 minutes. The optical and structural properties of the yielded nanoparticles were characterize using UV/Vis spectroscopy, TEM and XRD and showed dependence on the type capping interactions from the two agents. Nanoparticles synthesized using TOP produced two phases whereas a single phase was observed from OLA as confirmed by XRD. OLA produced bigger particle sizes compared to TOP but with a wider variety of shapes. The wide variety of particle structures of OLA capped nanoparticles was advantageous since different types of bacteria were targeted in this work. Therefore, other synthetic parameters were investigated using OLA as both solvent and capping molecule. Precursor concentration ratio showed bigger effect in the size, and shape of the yielded nanoparticles. For copper selenide and copper sulphide (Cu: Se/ S), 1:1 concentration ratio gave the best optical and structural properties while copper oxide (CuO) nanoparticles demonstrated its best optical and structural properties in 2:1 ratio (Cu: O). Nonetheless, 1:1 precursor concentration ratio was used to optimise other parameters. Since reaction time has a profound effect on the nanocrystals size and shapes, the effect of reaction time in OLA was also investigated. The reaction time showed no effect on the phase composition of the synthesized copper sulphide, copper oxide and copper selenide nanoparticles. Reaction time of 30 minutes gave the best optical (the shape of the absorption band edge and emission maxima values) and structural (size distribution of particles) properties for CuSe and CuS compared to other reaction times (15 min, 45 and 60 min). 15 min reaction time gave the best optical and structural properties for copper oxide but nonetheless, 30 min was used as the optimum reaction time for further optimization. Temperature showed an effect in size, shape and the stoichiometry of the reaction. These effects were confirmed by the optical and structural properties of the synthesized nanoparticles. XRD patterns revealed some differences with the temperature change, indicating an effect on the phase composition of CuS and CuO but not on CuSe nanoparticles. CuSe and CuS nanoparticles synthesized at 220 °C gave the ideal optical and morphological features compared to other temperatures that were selected (160 ºC, 190 ºC and 240 ºC). Nonetheless, CuO revealed its best optical and structural properties at 160 ºC. 220 ºC was deduced to be the optimum temperature for the synthesis of these three materials under the synthetic conditions. The optimum parameter (220 ºC, 30 min and 1:1 ratio) were used to synthesize the three copper chalcogenides which were then tested against Gram-negative (E. coli and P. aeruginosa), Gram-positive (S. aureus and E. faecalis), and fungi (C. albicans). The plant species, Combretum molle and Acacia mearnsii were phytochemical screened for the presence of active organic compounds and the content of total phenols, flavonoids and antioxidants using different solvents. Both C. molle and A. mearnsii revealed the highest phenolic content in acetone extracts. C. molle revealed its highest flavonoid content in methanol extract and its highest free radical scavenging activity in acetone extract. Acetone extracts demonstrated the highest flavonoid content as well as the highest free radical scavenging activity of A. meansii. The solubility of copper chalcogenides and plant extract was tested in four different solvents and the solvent that demonstrated highest solubility was used for the coordination of the plant extract and copper chalcogenides. The plant extract coordinated nanoparticles were tested for their antibacterial and antifungal activity. Their results were compared to those of the active ingredient in their respective solvents from the medicinal plants as well as those of copper chalcogenides nanoparticles without plant extracts using diffusion disk and MICs methods. The synthesized nanoparticles showed better performance than plant extracts with copper oxide performing the best, followed by copper selenide and lastly by copper sulfide. The performance of plants extracts highly dependent on the solvent of extract with acetone showing the best performance for both C. molle and A. Mearnsii followed by ethanol. The addition of active ingredients from C. molle and A. mearnsii to the synthesized nanoparticles did not enhance the performance of these nanoparticles.
M. Tech. (Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences) Vaal University of Technology.
copper selenide, trioctylphosphine, oleylamine, nanocrystals, Combretum molle, C. molle and A. Mearnsii