Antibacterial mechanisms of graphene-based composite nanomaterials
Pathogenic bacteria are gaining resistance to conventional antibiotics at an alarming rate due to overuse and rapid transfer of resistance genes between bacterial populations. As bacterial resistance to antibiotics causes millions of fatalities worldwide, it is of urgent importance to develop a new class of antibiotic materials with both broad-spectrum bactericidal activity and suitable biocompatibility. Graphene derivatives are rapidly emerging as an extremely promising class of antimicrobial materials due to their diverse bactericidal mechanisms and relatively low cytotoxicity towards mammalian cells. By combining graphene derivatives with currently utilized antibacterial metal and metal–oxide nanostructures, composite materials with exceptional bactericidal activity can be achieved. In this review, the antibacterial activities of graphene derivatives as well as their metal and metal–oxide composite nanostructures will be presented. The synthetic methodology for these various materials will be briefly mentioned, and emphasis will be placed on the evaluation of their mechanisms of action. This information will provide a valuable insight into the current understanding of the interactions governing the microbial toxicity of graphene-based composite nanostructures.