An overview of nanomaterial-based novel disinfection technologies for harmful microorganisms: Mechanism, synthesis, devices and application

Zhong Ting Hu, Yue Chen, Yan Fei Fei, Siew Leng Loo, Guancong Chen, Mian Hu, Yujie Song, Jun Zhao*, Yifeng Zhang, Jiade Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Harmful microorganism (e.g., new coronavirus) based infection is the most important security concern in life sciences and healthcare. This article aims to provide a state-of-the-art review on the development of advanced technology based on nanomaterial disinfection/sterilization techniques (NDST) for the first time including the nanomaterial types, disinfection techniques, bactericidal devices, sterilization products, and application scenarios (i.e., water, air, medical healthcare), with particular brief account of bactericidal behaviors referring to varied systems. In this emerging research area spanning the years from 1998 to 2021, total of ~200 publications selected for the type of review paper and research articles were reviewed. Four typical functional materials (namely type of metal/metal oxides, S-based, C-based, and N-based) with their development progresses in disinfection/sterilization are summarized with a list of synthesis and design. Among them, the widely used silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are considered as the most effective bacterial agents in the type of nanomaterials at present and has been reported for inactivation of viruses, fungi, protozoa. Some methodologies against (1) disinfection by-products (DBPs) in traditional sterilization, (2) noble metal nanoparticles (NPs) agglomeration and release, (3) toxic metal leaching, (4) solar spectral response broadening, and (5) photogenerated e/h+ pairs recombination are reviewed and discussed in this field, namely (1) alternative techniques and nanomaterials, (2) supporter anchoring effect, (3) nonmetal functional nanomaterials, (4) element doping, and (5) heterojunction constructing. The feasible strategies in the perspective of NDST are proposed to involve (1) non-noble metal disinfectors, (2) multi-functional nanomaterials, (3) multi-component nanocomposite innovation, and (4) hybrid techniques for disinfection/sterilization system. It is promising to achieve 100% bactericidal efficiency for 108 CFU/mL within a short time of less than 30 min.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155720
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bactericidal behavior
  • Bactericidal devices
  • Disinfection technology
  • Nanomaterial
  • Sterilization product


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