pH-gated ion channels in cell membranes play important roles in the cell's physiological activities. Many artificial nanochannels have been fabricated to mimic the natural phenomenon of pH-gated ion transport. However, these nanochannels show pH sensitivity only within certain pH ranges. Wide-range pH sensitivity has not yet been achieved. Herein, for the first time, we provide a versatile strategy to increase the pH-sensitive range by using dual amphoteric nanochannels. In particular, amphoteric polymeric nanochannels with carboxyl groups derived from a block copolymer (BCP) precursor and nanochannels with hydroxyl groups made from anodic alumina oxide (AAO) were used. Due to a synergistic effect, the hybrid nanochannels exhibit nanofluidic diode properties with single rectification direction over a wide pH range. The novel strategy presented here is a scalable, low-cost, and robust alternative for the construction of large-area membranes for nanofluidic applications, such as the separation of biomolecules.
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2016