Nanotubes can selectively conduct ions across membranes to make ionic devices with transport characteristics similar to biological ion channels and semiconductor electron devices. Depending on the surface charge profile of the nanopore, ohmic resistors, rectifiers, and diodes can be made. Here we show that a uniformly charged conical nanopore can have all these transport properties by changing the ion species and their concentrations on each side of the membrane. Moreover, the cation versus anion selectivity of the pores can be changed. We find that polyvalent cations like Ca 2+ and the trivalent cobalt sepulchrate produce localized charge inversion to change the effective pore surface charge profile from negative to positive. These effects are reversible so that the transport and selectivity characteristics of ionic devices can be tuned, much as the gate voltage tunes the properties of a semiconductor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry