Nature Communications

Differential Pd-nanocrystal facets demonstrate distinct antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria

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Noble metal-based nanomaterials have shown promise as potential enzyme mimetics, but the facet effect and underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. Herein, with a combined experimental and theoretical approach, we unveil that palladium (Pd) nanocrystals exhibit facet-dependent oxidase and peroxidase-like activities that endow them with excellent antibacterial properties via generation of reactive oxygen species. The antibacterial efficiency of Pd nanocrystals against Gram-positive bacteria is consistent with the extent of their enzyme-like activity, that is {100}-faceted Pd cubes with higher activities kill bacteria more effectively than {111}-faceted Pd octahedrons. Surprisingly, a reverse trend of antibacterial activity is observed against Gram-negative bacteria, with Pd octahedrons displaying stronger penetration into bacterial membranes than Pd nanocubes, thereby exerting higher antibacterial activity than the latter. Our findings provide a deeper understanding of facet-dependent enzyme-like activities and might advance the development of noble metal-based nanomaterials with both enhanced and targeted antibacterial activities.