Research Topic

Rational Design of Heterogeneous Photocatalysts for Microbial Inactivation

About this Research Topic

TiO2, a classic yet important semiconducting material, has been proven effective for self-disinfection when irradiated with ultraviolet light to keep environmental surfaces biologically clean. Such a process produces reactive oxygen species, including the hydroxyl and superoxide radicals, possessing strong oxidative powers. Other semiconducting materials with sufficiently low valence band edge potentials and high conduction band edge potentials are also promising candidates. More advanced photocatalytic systems, such as upconversion system and Z-scheme system, could also efficiently produce reactive oxygen species with strong oxidative powers, and thus, are potentially applicable to self-disinfection. Meanwhile, photocatalytic materials sensitive to visible light are particularly important for indoor applications.

While a large number of studies on self-disinfection have been carried out to offer astonishing developments, questions in science remain to be answered. Little is known about why and how a microbe is effectively inactivated by a rationally designed photocatalyst. The decisive properties of a photocatalyst for an effective microbial inactivation are hence difficult to reveal. In light of this, two issues are to be addressed: (1) rational design of photocatalytic materials suitable for microbial inactivation and (2) mechanistic insights into microbial inactivation by rationally designed photocatalysts. Upon successful clarification of those two issues, the structure-antimicrobial activity relationship can then be established. The accumulated knowledge can be implemented as a base for curing protocols from the current pandemic caused by a microbe, namely the coronavirus disease COVID-19, and for preventive solutions from potentially upcoming pandemics. Stopping the COVID-19 pandemic and uncontrollable spread of similar deadly microbes that may cause high mortality in the future are definitely urgent. Heterogeneous photocatalysis in this context could play a role in realizing such crucial efforts.

This Research Topic aims to collect important findings on the design of photocatalysts sensitive to either ultraviolet light or visible light for microbial inactivation. The selected papers in this Research Topic are expected to deal with inactivation of a variety of microbes including viruses, bacteria, and fungi using a diverse range of photocatalysts. Those dealing with inactivation of coronaviruses are especially welcome.

We invite submissions of Original Research and Review articles in themes including but not limited to:
• Reproducible preparation of photocatalysts in the form of powder or thin film for microbial inactivation.
• Use of advanced characterization techniques to provide fundamental knowledge at the molecular and atomic level enabling reproducible design of photocatalysts for microbial inactivation.
• Mechanistic insights into microbial inactivation.
• Molecularly-imprinted photocatalysts for efficient surface recognition of microbes.
• Theoretical studies of photocatalytic materials potentially applicable for microbial inactivation
• Photoreactors for efficient microbial inactivation.
• Robust methodology for standardized evaluation of antimicrobial activity with photocatalysis.


Keywords: Heterogeneous photocatalysis, self-disinfection, microbial inactivation, COVID-19, mechanistic insight


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

TiO2, a classic yet important semiconducting material, has been proven effective for self-disinfection when irradiated with ultraviolet light to keep environmental surfaces biologically clean. Such a process produces reactive oxygen species, including the hydroxyl and superoxide radicals, possessing strong oxidative powers. Other semiconducting materials with sufficiently low valence band edge potentials and high conduction band edge potentials are also promising candidates. More advanced photocatalytic systems, such as upconversion system and Z-scheme system, could also efficiently produce reactive oxygen species with strong oxidative powers, and thus, are potentially applicable to self-disinfection. Meanwhile, photocatalytic materials sensitive to visible light are particularly important for indoor applications.

While a large number of studies on self-disinfection have been carried out to offer astonishing developments, questions in science remain to be answered. Little is known about why and how a microbe is effectively inactivated by a rationally designed photocatalyst. The decisive properties of a photocatalyst for an effective microbial inactivation are hence difficult to reveal. In light of this, two issues are to be addressed: (1) rational design of photocatalytic materials suitable for microbial inactivation and (2) mechanistic insights into microbial inactivation by rationally designed photocatalysts. Upon successful clarification of those two issues, the structure-antimicrobial activity relationship can then be established. The accumulated knowledge can be implemented as a base for curing protocols from the current pandemic caused by a microbe, namely the coronavirus disease COVID-19, and for preventive solutions from potentially upcoming pandemics. Stopping the COVID-19 pandemic and uncontrollable spread of similar deadly microbes that may cause high mortality in the future are definitely urgent. Heterogeneous photocatalysis in this context could play a role in realizing such crucial efforts.

This Research Topic aims to collect important findings on the design of photocatalysts sensitive to either ultraviolet light or visible light for microbial inactivation. The selected papers in this Research Topic are expected to deal with inactivation of a variety of microbes including viruses, bacteria, and fungi using a diverse range of photocatalysts. Those dealing with inactivation of coronaviruses are especially welcome.

We invite submissions of Original Research and Review articles in themes including but not limited to:
• Reproducible preparation of photocatalysts in the form of powder or thin film for microbial inactivation.
• Use of advanced characterization techniques to provide fundamental knowledge at the molecular and atomic level enabling reproducible design of photocatalysts for microbial inactivation.
• Mechanistic insights into microbial inactivation.
• Molecularly-imprinted photocatalysts for efficient surface recognition of microbes.
• Theoretical studies of photocatalytic materials potentially applicable for microbial inactivation
• Photoreactors for efficient microbial inactivation.
• Robust methodology for standardized evaluation of antimicrobial activity with photocatalysis.


Keywords: Heterogeneous photocatalysis, self-disinfection, microbial inactivation, COVID-19, mechanistic insight


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

20 August 2020 Abstract
11 January 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

20 August 2020 Abstract
11 January 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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