Narrow band gap conjugated polyelectrolytes for photothermal killing of bacteria†
We report the demonstration of antimicrobial conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs) with high NIR absorbance for selective and efficient photothermal killing of bacteria over mammalian cells. The antimicrobial CPE possessing quaternary ammonium (QA) terminated side chains (P1) shows higher binding preference and increased dark toxicity towards Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria over mammalian cells. Bestowed by π-conjugated backbones, P1 exhibits a high molar absorptivity of 39.8 L g−1 cm−1 at 808 nm with an efficient photothermal conversion efficiency of 33 ± 1%. Upon 808 nm laser irradiation, P1 shows enhanced bactericidal effects, but not to mammalian cells. Although the anionic CPE counterpart with the same polymer backbone but sulfonate terminated side chains (P2) possesses a similar photothermal conversion ability, it exhibits much lower antibacterial effects due to its low binding affinity. This study thus reveals that bacteria–CPE electrostatic interactions play a major role in bacterial recognition, although hydrophobic interactions also contribute.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2015 Journal of Materials Chemistry B Hot Papers