Controlling ion-transport selectivity in gold nanotubule membranes

Charles R. Martin, Matsuhiko Nishizawa, Kshama Jirage, Munsik Kang, Sang Bok Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a new class of synthetic membranes that consist of a porous polymeric support. This support contains an ensemble of gold membranes that span the complete thickness of the support membrane. The support is a commercially available microporous polycarbonate filter with cylindrical nanoscopic pores. The gold nanotubules are prepared via electroless deposition of Au onto the pore walls, and tubules that have inside diameters of molecular dimensions (<1 nm) can be prepared. Hence, these membranes are a new class of molecular sieves. We review in this paper the ion-transport properties of these Au nanotubule membranes. We will show that these membranes can be cation-permselective or anion-permselective, and that the permselectivity can be reversibly switched between these two states. Ion permselectivity can be introduced by two different routes. The first entails chemisorption of an ionizable thiol, e.g., a carboxylated or ammonium-containing thiol to the Au tubule walls. If the thiol contains both of these functionalities (e.g., the amino acid cysteine), the permselectivity can be reversibly switched by varying the pH of the contacting solution phase. Ion permselectivity can also be introduced by potentiostatically charging the membrane in an electrolyte solution. By applying excess negative charge, cation permselective membranes are obtained, and excess positive charge yields anion permselective membranes. In this case the permselectivity can be reversibly switched by changing the potential applied to the membrane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1351-1362
Number of pages12
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Sept 14


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