Metal chalcogenides have been intensively investigated as antibacterial agents due to their unique structures and superior photoactivities. Herein, various structures of copper sulfide (CuS), a metal chalcogenide, such as microspheres (MSs), nanosheets (NSs), and nanoparticles (NPs), were developed in this work for antibacterial applications. A hydrothermal process was utilized to synthesize CuS MSs, CuS NSs, and CuS NPs. Under simulated solar light and near-infrared (NIR) light irradiation, the antibacterial behaviors, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and light-driven antibacterial mechanisms of CuS MSs, CuS NSs, and CuS NPs were demonstrated with the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli). Bacterial growth curves and ROS generation tests indicated that CuS NSs and CuS NPs had higher light-driven antibacterial activities than that of CuS MSs. ROS of hydroxyl (·OH) and superoxide anion radicals ([rad]O2−) were investigated via an electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopic analysis by respectively incubating CuS MSs, CuS NSs, and CuS NPs with E. coli under simulated solar light irradiation. Furthermore, E. coli incubated with CuS NPs and CuS NSs showed substantial bacterial degradation after NIR laser irradiation, which was attributed to their photothermal killing effects. Light-driven antibacterial mechanisms of CuS NSs and CuS NPs were investigated, and we discovered that under simulated solar and NIR light irradiation, CuS NSs and CuS NPs produced photoinduced electrons, and the copper ions and photoinduced electrons then reacted with atmospheric moisture to produce hydroxide and superoxide anion radicals and heat, resulting in bacterial mortality.
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