Stability and microbial toxicity of HfO2 and ZrO2 nanoparticles for photolithography

Jorge Gonzalez-Estrella, Jim A. Field, Christopher K. Ober, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Hafnium dioxide (HfO2) and zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) nanoparticles (NPs) have gained attention as components of photoresists for next-generation photolithography. Coating of these NPs with organic ligands has been shown to increase their efficiency in photolithography. This study evaluated the microbial toxicity of hafnium dioxide and zirconium dioxide NPs coated with benzoate, isobutyrate or methacrylate toward heterotrophic aerobes, methanogens and the bioluminescent bacterium Aliivibrio fischeri. The stability of NPs in the media was assessed as a function of zeta potential, particle size distribution and leaching analyses. NP dispersions were unstable in all bioassay media, resulting in particle aggregation and settling. Leaching tests showed that dissolution of the organic ligands from the NPs varied widely depending on the nanomaterial and medium considered. The NPs were harmless to aerobic heterotrophs and methanogens at high concentrations (800-1200mg/l). In contrast, they displayed low to moderate toxicity to A. fischeri (50% inhibition at 286-1372mg/l), with benzoate-coated NPs causing the highest inhibition. Further analyses confirmed that the inhibition observed in assays with A. fischeri should be attributed to the coated NPs rather than to the dissolved organic ligands. Overall, the NP photoresists tested in this study are unlikely to exert acute microbial toxicity at environmentally relevant concentrations (sub-parts-per-million levels).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
JournalGreen Materials
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 21 2019


  • green coatings
  • nanomaterials
  • organic semiconductors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Stability and microbial toxicity of HfO2 and ZrO2 nanoparticles for photolithography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this