“Uphill” cation transport: a bioinspired photo-drivenion pump

Zhen Zhang, Xiang Yu Kong, Ganhua Xie, Pei Li, Kai Xiao, Liping Wen, Lei Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Biological ion pumps with active ionic transport properties lay the foundation for many life processes. However, few analogs have been produced because extra energy is needed to couple to this "uphill" process. We demonstrate a bioinspired artificial photo-driven ion pump based on a single polyethylene terephthalate conical nanochannel. The pumping process behaving as an inversion of zero-volt current can be realized by applying ultraviolet irradiation from the large opening. The light energy can accelerate the dissociation of the benzoic acid derivative dimers existing on the inner surface of nanochannel, which consequently produces more mobile carboxyl groups. Enhanced electrostatic interaction between the ions traversing the nanochannel and the charged groups on the inner wall is the key reason for the uphill cation transport behavior. This system creates an ideal experimental and theoretical platform for further development and design of various stimuli-driven and specific ion-selective bioinspired ion pumps, which anticipates wide potential applications in biosensing, energy conversion, and desalination.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1600689
Number of pages7
JournalScience Advances
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this