Chemical synthesis, characterization and evaluation of antimicrobial properties of Cu and its oxide nanoparticles

  • Abesach Moshalagae Motlatle
  • Sreejarani Kesavan PillaiEmail author
  • Manfred Rudolf Scriba
  • Suprakas Sinha Ray
Research Paper


Cu nanoparticles were synthesized using low-temperature aqueous reduction method at pH 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 in presence of ascorbic acid and polyvinylpyrrolidone. The nanoparticles were characterized using transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction techniques. Results demonstrated a strong dependence of synthesis pH on the size, shape, chemical composition and structure of Cu nanoparticles. While lower pH conditions of 3 and 5 produced Cu0, higher pH levels (more than 7) led to the formation of Cu2O/CuO nanoparticles. The reducing capacity of ascorbic acid, capping efficiency of PVP and the resulting particle sizes were strongly affected by solution pH. The results of in vitro disk diffusion tests showed excellent antimicrobial activity of Cu2O/CuO nanoparticles against a mixture of bacterial strains (Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa), indicating that the size as well as oxidation state of Cu contributes to the antibacterial efficacy. The results indicate that varying synthesis pH is a strategy to tailor the composition, structure and properties of Cu nanoparticles.


Chemical reduction, pH Cu, Cu2O, CuO nanoparticles Characterization Structure Antimicrobial properties 



The authors wish to thank Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Council for scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa for the financial support (Project No. HGER20S). The NCNSM, CSIR characterization facility and staff are acknowledged for their support with characterization of materials.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Details on potential conflicts of interest are included in the ‘publishing ethics’ section.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abesach Moshalagae Motlatle
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sreejarani Kesavan Pillai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Manfred Rudolf Scriba
    • 1
  • Suprakas Sinha Ray
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.DST/CSIR Nanotechnology Innovation Centre, National Centre for Nano-Structured MaterialsCouncil for Scientific and Industrial ResearchPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Applied ChemistryUniversity of JohannesburgDoornfonteinSouth Africa

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