The unique feature of nacre-like 2D layered materials provides a facile, yet highly efficient way to modulate the transmembrane ion transport from two orthogonal transport directions, either vertical or horizontal. Recently, light-driven active transport of ionic species in synthetic nanofluidic systems attracts broad research interest. Herein, taking advantage of the photoelectric semiconducting properties of 2D transition metal dichalcogenides, the generation of a directional and greatly enhanced cationic flow through WS2-based 2D nanofluidic membranes upon asymmetric visible light illumination is reported. Compared with graphene-based materials, the magnitude of the ionic photocurrent can be enhanced by tens of times, and its photo-responsiveness can be 2–3.5 times faster. This enhancement is explained by the coexistence of semiconducting and metallic WS2 nanosheets in the hybrid membrane that facilitates the asymmetric diffusion of photoexcited charge carriers on the channel wall, and the high ionic conductance due to the neat membrane structure. To further demonstrate its application, photonic ion switches, photonic ion diodes, and photonic ion transistors as the fundamental elements for light-controlled nanofluidic circuits are further developed. Exploring new possibilities in the family of liquid processable colloidal 2D materials provides a way toward high-performance light-harvesting nanofluidic systems for artificial photosynthesis and sunlight-driven desalination.
- 2D layered materials
- ion transport