Rapid eradication of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and biofilms by MXene and near-infrared light through photothermal ablation

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  • ReceivedApr 10, 2020
  • AcceptedJul 2, 2020
  • PublishedSep 24, 2020


Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(NSFC-81901790,NSFC-21803006)

the Natural Science Foundation of Beijing(7204274)

the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities

and the Interdisciplinary Medicine Seed Fund of Peking University(BMU2017MX015)


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81901790 and 21803006), the Natural Science Foundation of Beijing (7204274), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, and the Interdisciplinary Medicine Seed Fund of Peking University (BMU2017MX015).

Interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Contributions statement

Wu F, Zheng H, Wang W and Wu Q performed the experiments; Zhang Q performed ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy experiment; Guo J, Pu B and Shi X contributed to the establishment of the mathematical model; Wu F, Hong W, Li J and Chen X wrote the paper with support from Zheng H. All authors contributed to the general discussion.

Author information

Fan Wu is currently a graduate student in the School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering at Beihang University. He received his bachelor’s degree from Tangshan College in 2017. In 2018, he joined Prof. Weili Hong’s lab, focusing on the application of coherent Raman microscope for antibiotic susceptibility testing and medical photonics.

Huiling Zheng is currently a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology, Peking University Health Science Center. She received her bachelor’s degree from XiangYa School of Medicine, Central South University, in 2018. And in the same year, she joined the research group of associate prof. Xiangmei Chen, focusing on studying the pathogenesis of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Weili Hong is an associate professor at Beijing Advanced Innovation Center of Biomedical Engineering at Beihang University, Beijing, China. He obtained his BSc degree from the University of Science and Technology of China, and PhD degree from the University of Utah. After a postdoctoral training at Purdue University, he joined Beihang University as an associate professor. His research focuses on the development and biomedical applications of optics and label-free imaging.

Xiangmei Chen received her PhD degree of medical genetics from Harbin Medical University in 2006. She completed postdoctoral training at the Department of Microbiology, Peking University Health Science Center, in 2008. She became assistant professor of medical microbiology at Peking University Health Science Center in 2008 and was promoted to associate professor in 2012. Her current research interest focuses on the pathogenesis of infection-associated cancers, especially HBV-related HCC and helicobacter pylori-induced gastric cancers.

Jiebo Li gained his BSc and MSc from Peking University, and PhD degree from Rice University, Texas, USA. Now, he is an associate professor at Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Biomedical Engineering, Beihang University. His research focuses on developing various spectroscopy techniques to understand the interfacial problems in biomedical engineering related areas.


Supplementary information

Experimental details are available in the online version of the paper.


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  • Figure 1

    Rapid eradication of bacteria with MXene and light combination. (a) Schematic diagram of bacterial treatment with MXene and light. (b) CFU images of S. aureus and E. coli without and with treatments. The red rectangles show the CFU counts of the same dilution after each treatment. (c) Growth curves of S. aureus and E. coli after no treatment, treated with light alone, MXene alone, and MXene with light for 20 min. (d, e) Statistical analysis of bacterial concentration after treatment with different types of MXenes (d) and different light wavelength (e). (f, g) Bacterial concentration after treatment as a function of light intensity (f) and MXene concentration (g). (h) Statistical analysis of bacterial concentration as a function of exposure time with MXene and light combination. Error bars represent standard deviation. *p< 0.05, **p< 0.01, ***p< 0.001.

  • Figure 2

    Antibacterial mechanisms of MXene with light. (a) Schematic diagram of antibacterial mechanisms of MXene with light. (b) Pump-probe spectroscopy of Ti3C2 and S. aureus mixture and Ti3C2 in water. (c) SEM images of S. aureus exposed to various treatment conditions. Green color represents MXene and blue color represents S. aureus. Scale bar: 1 μm. (d) TEM image of S. aureus after exposure to Ti3C2 with light. The arrows show the destroyed outer layer of bacterial cell (red arrow) and the area that Ti3C2 insert into or contact with the cell (blue arrow). (e) GSH loss assay at various conditions.

  • Figure 3

    Bacterial mortality measurements of 15 bacterial species exposed to Ti3C2 with 808 nm light for 20 min. Error bars represent standard deviation.

  • Figure 4

    Bacterial biofilm treated with MXene and light. (a) Schematic diagram showing the treatment of bacterial biofilms with MXene and light. (b) Fluorescence images from confocal laser scanning imaging of MRSA biofilms after no exposure (control), exposure to Ti3C2 (100 µg mL−1) alone, exposure to light (400 mW) alone, and simultaneous exposure to Ti3C2 (100 µg mL−1) and light (400 mW) for 20 min. Scale bar: 25 µm. (c) Statistical analysis of survival rates of bacteria in biofilms after each treatment. Error bars represent standard deviation. ***p< 0.001.


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