Magnetoelectric Polymer Membrane-Based Electrical Microenvironment with Magnetically Controlled Antibacterial Activity

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The "hard to clean"parts of food processing devices (e.g., the corners of pipes) are difficult to disinfect. This challenge might be overcome through the application of a positive electrical environment. However, the chemical modification of a material surface is complex and difficult. In this work, we developed a smart electroactive TbxDy1-xFe alloy/poly(vinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene) (TD/P(VDF-TrFE)) magnetoelectric coating to endow stainless steel with the function of a smart adjustable electrical environment, which was realized by the introduction of a magnetic field of various intensities (0-1800 Oe). An antibacterial assay showed that the polarized coating@stainless steel (P-CS) exhibited antibacterial effects, with the highest antibacterial effect observed at 1800 Oe. Furthermore, in this study, we have, for the first time, explored the antibacterial mechanism of TD/P(VDF-TrFE)-assisted electrical stimulation based on the bacterial intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level, cell respiratory chain, and membrane potential. The results showed that a microelectric field was formed on the P-CS sample in an aqueous solution, which not only generated ROS on the cathode surface but also caused H+ consumption in the electrochemical gradient of the bacterial membrane, leading to OH- production and inhibition of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis. In addition, the electric field also induced hyperpolarization of the membrane potential in Escherichia coli cells via a K+ efflux, thus inducing rearrangement of the outer membrane. In conclusion, an adjustable surface potential was established through the introduction of magnetoelectric polymer coatings, which endowed stainless steel with magnetically controlled antibacterial effects.

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ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces