John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Transformation and destabilization of graphene oxide in reducing aqueous solutions containing sulfide

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The colloidal stability of carbon nanomaterials is a key factor controlling their fate and bioavailability in natural aquatic systems. We reported herein that graphene oxide (GO) nanoparticles could be destabilized in reducing aqueous solutions containing a low concentration (0.5 mM) of sulfide, a naturally occurring reductant. Spectroscopic characterization using combined X‐ray photoelectron, Fourier‐transform infrared, X‐ray diffraction, and Raman analyses revealed that the surface oxygen‐containing groups (mainly epoxy groups) of GO were significantly reduced after reacting with Na2S. The destabilization of GO was likely caused by the enhanced surface hydrophobicity of the reduced GO, whereas electrostatic repulsion played a minimal role. Solution pH was found to affect both the de‐oxygenation process and the aggregation behavior of GO. Coexisting humic acid reduced the reaction efficiency and stabilized GO through steric hindrance. These findings suggest for the first time that the colloidal behavior of carbon nanomaterials might change drastically when they enter natural reducing environments containing sulfide such as anaerobic aquifers and sediments. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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