Light-driven active proton transport through photoacid- and photobase-doped janus graphene oxide membranes

Lili Wang, Qi Wen, Pan Jia, Meijuan Jia, Diannan Lu, Xiaoming Sun, Lei Jiang, Wei Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Biological electrogenic systems use protein-based ionic pumps to move salt ions uphill across a cell membrane to accumulate an ion concentration gradient from the equilibrium physiological environment. Toward high-performance and robust artificial electric organs, attaining an antigradient ion transport mode by fully abiotic materials remains a great challenge. Herein, a light-driven proton pump transport phenomenon through a Janus graphene oxide membrane (JGOM) is reported. The JGOM is fabricated by sequential deposition of graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets modified with photobase (BOH) and photoacid (HA) molecules. Upon ultraviolet light illumination, the generation of a net protonic photocurrent through the JGOM, from the HA-GO to the BOH-GO side, is observed. The directional proton flow can thus establish a transmembrane proton concentration gradient of up to 0.8 pH units mm−2 membrane area at a proton transport rate of 3.0 mol h−1 m−2. Against a concentration gradient, antigradient proton transport can be achieved. The working principle is explained in terms of asymmetric surface charge polarization on HA-GO and BOH-GO multilayers triggered by photoisomerization reactions, and the consequent intramembrane proton concentration gradient. The implementation of membrane-scale light-harvesting 2D nanofluidic system that mimics the charge process of the bioelectric organs makes a straightforward step toward artificial electrogenic and photosynthetic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1903029
Number of pages8
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • 2D layered materials
  • bioinspired materials
  • ion transport
  • light-driven proton pumps
  • nanofluidics

Cite this