Single Ion Transport Through Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

Zachary Ulissi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Photo of Zachary Ulissi

Biological ion channels, used to selectively transport ions across cell membranes, and electro-osmotic membranes, useful for saline separations, both rely on their nano-scale dimensions for their ion-selective properties. These channels are extremely well suited for simulation (MD) – the scale is just small enough that continuum models break down, but large enough that quantum effects are not so important. Recently, we have experimentally observed the translocation of single cations (Na+, K+) through a single walled carbon nanotubes of extremely high aspect ratio (approximately 1 nm radius, 1mm length) using an applied electric field. The underlying physics can be probed by varying the electronic properties and dimensions of the SWNT. We have begun to model this device using statistical transport models, and we expect these devices to inform and refine the results of the most relevant simulation codes.

Abstract Author(s): Zachary Ulissi, Richard Braatz, Michael Strano