Engineered ionic gates for ion conduction based on sodium and potassium activated nanochannels

Qian Liu, Kai Xiao, Liping Wen, Heng Lu, Yahui Liu, Xiang Yu Kong, Ganhua Xie, Zhen Zhang, Zhishan Bo, Lei Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


In living systems, ion conduction plays a major role in numerous cellular processes and can be controlled by biological ion channels in response to specific environmental stimuli. This article describes biomimetic ionic gates for ion conduction based on sodium and potassium activated nanochannels. The Na+ activated ionic gate and K+ activated ionic gate were developed by immobilizing the alkali metal cation-responsive functional molecules, 4′-aminobenzo-15-crown-5 and 4′-aminobenzo-18-crown-6, respectively, onto the conical polyimide nanochannels. When the ionic gate was in the presence of the specific alkali metal cation, positively charged complexes formed between the crown ether and the alkali metal cation. On the basis of the resulting changes in surface charge, wettability and effective pore size, the nanochannel can achieve reversible switching. The switching behaviors of the two complexes differed due to the differences in binding strength between the two complexes. The Na+ activated ionic gate is able to open and close to control the ion conduction through the nanochannel, and the K+ activated ionic gate enables selective cation and anion conduction through the nanochannel. The Na+ and K+ activated ionic gates show great promise for use in clinical medicine, biosensors and drug delivery based on their high sensitivity and selectivity of being activated, and good stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11976-11983
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes

Cite this