Monash University researchers have developed a faster and more efficient nanodevice to filter proton and alkaline metal ions. It will help design next-generation membranes for clean energy technology, conversion and storage.
The new nanodevice works with atomic-scale precision and generates its own power through reverse electrodialysis. The paper was published in the journal Science Advances. Scientists found that a metal-organic framework (MIL-53-COOH) polymer nanofluidic device mimics the functions of both biological inward-rectifying potassium channels and outward-rectifying proton channels.
Potassium channels are the most widely distributed type of ion channels. These are found in virtually all living organisms. Directional ultrafast transport of ions with atomic-scale precision is one of the core functions of biological ion channels in cell membranes.
These biological ion channels cooperatively maintain the electrolyte and pH balance across cell membranes. These are essential for the physiological activities of the cells.
The electrolyte concentration disorder in cells especially for the positively charged ions such as potassium, sodium and proton. It is recognized to have a direct link with some diseases such as epilepsy.
Artificial nanochannel devices constructed from porous materials have been widely studied for the experimental investigation of nanofluidic ion transport to achieve the ion-specific transport properties observed in biological ion channels.
Carbon nanotubes, graphene, polymers and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have been used to construct nanometer-sized pores to mimic atomic-scale ionic and molecular transport of biological ion channels. The discovery of bioinspired ultrafast rectifying counter-directional transport of proton and metal ions has not been reported until now.