Successful stabilization of graphene oxide in electrolyte solutions: enhancement of biofunctionalization and cellular uptake

ACS Nano. 2012 Jan 24;6(1):63-73. doi: 10.1021/nn202355p. Epub 2011 Dec 23.


Aqueous dispersions of graphene oxide are inherently unstable in the presence of electrolytes, which screen the electrostatic surface charge on these nanosheets and induce irreversible aggregation. Two complementary strategies, utilizing either electrostatic or steric stabilization, have been developed to enhance the stability of graphene oxide in electrolyte solutions, allowing it to stay dispersed in cell culture media and serum. The electrostatic stabilization approach entails further oxidation of graphene oxide to low C/O ratio (~1.1) and increases ionic tolerance of these nanosheets. The steric stabilization technique employs an amphiphilic block copolymer that serves as a noncovalently bound surfactant to minimize the aggregate-inducing nanosheet-nanosheet interactions. Both strategies can stabilize graphene oxide nanosheets with large dimensions (>300 nm) in biological media, allowing for an enhancement of >250% in the bioconjugation efficiency of streptavidin in comparison to untreated nanosheets. Notably, both strategies allow the stabilized nanosheets to be readily taken up by cells, demonstrating their excellent performance as potential drug-delivery vehicles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Diffusion
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Stability
  • Electrolytes / chemistry
  • Graphite / chemistry*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Nanocapsules / chemistry*
  • Nanocapsules / ultrastructure*
  • Oxides / chemistry*
  • Solutions


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Drug Carriers
  • Electrolytes
  • Nanocapsules
  • Oxides
  • Solutions
  • Graphite