Photo-induced ultrafast active ion transport through graphene oxide membranes

Jinlei Yang, Xiaoyu Hu, Xian Kong, Pan Jia, Danyan Ji, Di Quan, Lili Wang, Qi Wen, Diannan Lu, Jianzhong Wu, Lei Jiang, Wei Guo

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Layered graphene oxide membranes (GOM) with densely packed sub-nanometer-wide lamellar channels show exceptional ionic and molecular transport properties. Mass and charge transport in existing materials follows their concentration gradient, whereas attaining anti-gradient transport, also called active transport, remains a great challenge. Here, we demonstrate a coupled photon-electron-ion transport phenomenon through the GOM. Upon asymmetric light illumination, cations are able to move thermodynamically uphill over a broad range of concentrations, at rates much faster than that via simple diffusion. We propose, as a plausible mechanism, that light irradiation reduces the local electric potential on the GOM following a carrier diffusion mechanism. When the illumination is applied to an off-center position, an electric potential difference is built that can drive the transport of ionic species. We further develop photonic ion switches, photonic ion diodes, and photonic ion transistors as the fundamental elements for active ion sieving and artificial photosynthesis on synthetic nanofluidic circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1171
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

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