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The competing effects of microbially derived polymeric and low molecular-weight substances on the dispersibility of CeO2 nanoparticles
Hochella, Michael F. Jr.
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To understand the competing effects of the components in extracellular substances (ES), polymeric substances (PS) and low-molecular-weight small substances (SS) <1 kDa derived from microorganisms, on the colloidal stability of cerium dioxide nanoparticles (CeNPs), we investigated their adsorption to sparingly soluble CeNPs at room temperature at pH 6.0. The ES was extracted from the fungus S. cerevisiae. The polypeptides and phosphates in all components preferentially adsorbed onto the CeNPs. The zeta potentials of ES+CeNPs, PS+CeNPs, and SS+CeNPs overlapped on the plot of PS itself, indicating the surface charge of the polymeric substances controls the zeta potentials. The sizes of the CeNP aggregates, 100-1300 nm, were constrained by the zeta potentials. The steric barrier derived from the polymers, even in SS, enhanced the CeNP dispersibility at pH 1.5-10. Consequently, the PS and SS had similar effects on modifying the CeNP surfaces. The adsorption of ES, which contains PS+SS, can suppress the aggregation of CeNPs over a wider pH range than that for PS only. The present study addresses the non-negligible effects of small-sized molecules derived from microbial activity on the migration of CeNP in aquatic environments, especially where bacterial consortia prevail.