Graphene protection for bacteria created
Physicists from the United States managed to partially protect two types of gram-positive bacteria from the action of an electron beam in a microscope by wrapping them in carbon sheets.
To observe cells, optical microscopes are usually used, the capabilities of which are severely limited: the minimum size of image details is set by the diffraction limit. Higher resolution images can be obtained with an electron beam (transmission electron microscope), but in this case the sample must be placed in a vacuum. In such conditions, bacterial cells “dry up” and die; in addition, electrons have a destructive effect on hydrogen bonds.
Scientists have tried to help bacteria that enter an unfamiliar environment. They treated the graphene layers with specially selected peptides that ensure communication with living cells, after which the prepared samples were placed in a dish with bacteria Bacillus cereus and Bacillus subtilis. In less than a minute, the microorganisms developed protective graphene shells.
The researchers then put the wrapped bacteria under a microscope. As shown by preliminary experiments, such bacteria feel under an electron beam in a vacuum much better than organisms from the control group, although, of course, it was not possible to completely protect them from the effects of electrons, since hydrogen still gradually escapes.
In the near future, scientists plan to conduct experiments with increased beam energy.
The results of this study were presented at the Portland meeting of the American Physical Society.