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ASU researchers test antibacterial effects of healing clays

unding an octahedral core. The "peanut butter" is the charged cations, for example, potassium, that stick to the negatively charged tetrahedral ring surface. And the jelly? Organic compounds or other species of any or no charge are possible. This interlayer, as the peanut butter and jelly are termed, can vary in width and composition depending on the kinds of waters and elements present when it was formed. It is this interlayer where much of the elemental variability between clays can be found. And the interlayer surface area is huge (greater than 100 square meters per gram of clay ?bigger than a football field). As a result, surface chemical reactions from these sites have an enormous impact on the geochemistry of the local environment.

Williams is passionate about her subject: "Clays are as individual in character as people are in personality. They can be as old as Precambrian time (probably older, since meteorites contain clay minerals from other celestial bodies) or as young as I can make them in my lab in a few hours. They form when the chemistry, temperature and pressure conditions are right. In the case of the two French clays we are testing, their chemical structures are almost identical, but the different trace element chemistry of the interlayer records an older geologic condition, from a time when the antimicrobial property was likely inherited."

Crystal structure, the interlayer, the way other materials, metals, ions bind to clays, the absorptive characteristics of clays, all could potentially play a role in the antibacterial activity they find in the one French clay. And, while preliminary results suggest that the antibacterial activity is associated with the interlayer, crystal size and structure also seem to play a role.

It is a mystery that engages both research partners: "It's fascinating," Haydel says. "Here we are bridging geology, microbiology, cell biology ?transdisciplinary sciences, exactly what (ASU President) Mi
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Source:Arizona State University


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