Water-ion permselectivity of narrow-diameter carbon nanotubes

Sci. Adv. 2020, 6, eaba9966

Yuhao Li, Zhongwu Li, Fikret Aydin, Jana Quan, Xi Chen, Yun-Chiao Yao, Cheng Zhan, Yunfei Chen, Tuan Anh Pham, Aleksandr Noy


The abstract reads as follows: Carbon nanotube (CNT) pores, which mimic the structure of the aquaporin channels, support extremely high water transport rates that make them strong candidates for building artificial water channels and high-performance membranes. Here, we measure water and ion permeation through 0.8-nm-diameter CNT porins (CNTPs)—short CNT segments embedded in lipid membranes—under optimized experimental conditions. Measured activation energy of water transport through the CNTPs agrees with the barrier values typical for single-file water transport. Well-tempered metadynamics simulations of water transport in CNTPs also report similar activation energy values and provide molecular-scale details of the mechanism for water entry into these channels. CNTPs strongly reject chloride ions and show water-salt permselectivity values comparable to those of commercial desalination membranes.

 This work was supported as part of the Center for Enhanced Nanofluidic Transport (CENT), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under award no. DE-SC0019112.