Silver nanoparticles as antimicrobial agent: a case study on E. coli as a model for Gram-negative bacteria

J Colloid Interface Sci. 2004 Jul 1;275(1):177-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2004.02.012.


The antimicrobial activity of silver nanoparticles against E. coli was investigated as a model for Gram-negative bacteria. Bacteriological tests were performed in Luria-Bertani (LB) medium on solid agar plates and in liquid systems supplemented with different concentrations of nanosized silver particles. These particles were shown to be an effective bactericide. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM) were used to study the biocidal action of this nanoscale material. The results confirmed that the treated E. coli cells were damaged, showing formation of "pits" in the cell wall of the bacteria, while the silver nanoparticles were found to accumulate in the bacterial membrane. A membrane with such a morphology exhibits a significant increase in permeability, resulting in death of the cell. These nontoxic nanomaterials, which can be prepared in a simple and cost-effective manner, may be suitable for the formulation of new types of bactericidal materials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Escherichia coli / ultrastructure
  • Nanostructures*
  • Silver / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Silver