Graphene Coating as an Effective Barrier to Prevent Bacteria-Mediated Dissolution of Gold
The interaction of biofilms with metallic surfaces produces two biologically induced degradation processes of materials: microbial induced corrosion and bioleaching. Both phenomena affect most metallic materials, but in the case of noble metals such as gold, which is inert to corrosion, metallophilic bacteria can cause its direct or in direct dissolution. When this process is controlled, it can be used for hydrometallurgical applications, such as the recovery of precious metals from electronic
... ls from electronic waste. However, the presence of unwanted bioleaching-producing bacteria can be detrimental to metallic materials in specific environments. In this work, we propose the use of single-layer graphene as a protective coating to reduce Au bioleaching by Cupriavidus metallidurans, a strain adapted to metal contaminated environments and capable of dissolving Au. By means of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy, we demonstrate that graphene coatings are an effective barrier to prevent the complex interactions responsible for Au dissolution. This behavior can be understood in terms of graphene pore size, which creates an impermeable barrier that prevents the pass of Au-complexing ligands produced by C.metallidurans through graphene coating. In addition, changes in surface energy and electrostatic interaction are presumably reducing bacterial adhesion to graphene-coated Au surfaces. Our findings provide a novel approach to reduce the deterioration of metallic materials in devices in environments where biofilms have been found to cause unwanted bioleaching.