Nanofluidic ion transport through reconstructed layered materials

J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Oct 10;134(40):16528-31. doi: 10.1021/ja308167f. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Abstract

Electrolytes confined in nanochannels with characteristic dimensions comparable to the Debye length show transport behaviors deviating from their bulk counterparts. Fabrication of nanofluidic devices typically relies on expensive lithography techniques or the use of sacrificial templates with sophisticated growth and processing steps. Here we demonstrate an alternative approach where unprecedentedly massive arrays of nanochannels are readily formed by restacking exfoliated sheets of layered materials, such as graphene oxide (GO). Nanochannels between GO sheets are successfully constructed as manifested by surface-charge-governed ion transport for electrolyte concentrations up to 50 mM. Nanofluidic devices based on reconstructed layer materials have distinct advantages such as low cost, facile fabrication, ease of scaling up to support high ionic currents, and flexibility. Given the rich chemical, physical, and mechanical properties of layered materials, they should offer many exciting new opportunities for studying and even manufacturing nanofluidic devices.