CENT is a virtual center funded by DOE EFRC that started in October 2018. CENT will address emerging and compelling gaps in our scientific knowledge of fluid flow and molecular transport in single digit nanopores.
Not all nanopores are created equal. The narrowest of such pores, with diameters less than 10 nm, have only recently become accessible experimentally for precision transport measurements. The finding has been surprising, with many experiments revealing extraordinary transport efficiencies and selectivities unexpected for pores in this size range. These studies expose critical gaps in our understanding of nanoscale hydrodynamics, molecular sieving, fluidic structure and thermodynamics. CENT leverages an unprecedented opportunity to discover and understand fundamentally new mechanisms of molecular transport at the nanometer scale that may inspire a host of new technologies, from novel membranes for separations and water purification to new gas-permeable materials and energy storage devices. To address these transformative opportunities, CENT has assembled a multidisciplinary team of 16 leading experts from MIT, University of Maryland (UMD), Yale, University of California at Irvine (UCI), Stanford, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). We will take an integrated approach, augmented by the development of precision model systems, transformative experimental tools, and predictive, multiscale theory to address the fundamental gaps of our knowledge for extremely narrow nanopores. CENT will establish the scientific foundation for developing transformative molecular separation technologies impacting the Water-Energy Nexus.