Covalent chemical functionalization enhances the biodegradation of graphene oxide

Biodegradation of the graphene-based materials is an emerging issue due to their estimated widespread usage in different industries. Indeed, a few concerns have been raised about their biopersistence. Here, we propose the design of surface-functionalized graphene oxide (GO) with the capacity to degrade more effectively compared to unmodified GO using horseradish peroxidase (HRP). For this purpose, we have functionalized the surface of GO with two well-known substrates of HRP such as coumarin and catechol derivatives. The biodegradation of all conjugates has been followed by Raman, dynamic light scattering and electron microscopy. Molecular docking and gel electrophoresis have been carried out to gain more insights into the interaction between GO conjugates and HRP. Our studies have revealed better binding when GO is functionalized with coumarin or catechol compared to control GOs. All results prove that GO functionalized with coumarin and catechol derivatives display a faster and more efficient biodegradation over GO.