Nanocrystalline ZnO photocatalysts were prepared by a sol–gel method and modified with fluorine to improve their photocatalytic anti-bacterial activity in visible light. Pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli (Gram-negative) and Staphylococcus aureus (Gram-positive) were employed to evaluate the antimicrobial properties of synthesized materials. The interaction with biological systems was assessed by analysis of the antibacterial properties of bacteria suspended in 2% (w/w) powder solutions. The F-doping was found to be effective against S. aureus (99.99% antibacterial activity) and E. coli (99.87% antibacterial activity) when irradiated with visible light. Production of reactive oxygen species is one of the major factors that negatively impact bacterial growth. In addition, the nanosize of the ZnO particles can also be toxic to microorganisms. The small size and high surface-to-volume ratio of the ZnO nanoparticles are believed to play a role in enhancing antimicrobial activity.
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