Nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) comprises a class of lithium intercalation compounds with the composition LxNiyMnzCo1-y-zO2 (0 < x,y,z < 1). These compounds are of emerging importance in nanoparticle form as cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries used in transportation and consumer electronics. To evaluate the potential environmental impact of release of this material in the environment, we synthesized NMC nanosheets and investigated their interaction with Shewanella oneidensis, a soil and sediment bacterium. Exposure to 5 mg/L NMC significantly impaired bacterial population growth and respiration. Measurements of NMC surface composition by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and of the composition of the suspending solution via inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) demonstrated incongruent material dissolution and measurable release of all four metal constituents (Li, Mn, Co, and Ni) into solution. Speciation modeling and assessment of bacterial response to metal ion exposure (via cell growth and respiration measurements) established that the observed bacterial inhibition arose from the metal ions released from the NMC, with the largest effects arising from Ni(II) and Co(II) species. (Figure Presented).
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