H+-type and OH- -type biological protonic semiconductors and complementary devices

Sci Rep. 2013 Oct 3;3:2481. doi: 10.1038/srep02481.


Proton conduction is essential in biological systems. Oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria, proton pumping in bacteriorhodopsin, and uncoupling membrane potentials by the antibiotic Gramicidin are examples. In these systems, H(+) hop along chains of hydrogen bonds between water molecules and hydrophilic residues - proton wires. These wires also support the transport of OH(-) as proton holes. Discriminating between H(+) and OH(-) transport has been elusive. Here, H(+) and OH(-) transport is achieved in polysaccharide- based proton wires and devices. A H(+)- OH(-) junction with rectifying behaviour and H(+)-type and OH(-)-type complementary field effect transistors are demonstrated. We describe these devices with a model that relates H(+) and OH(-) to electron and hole transport in semiconductors. In turn, the model developed for these devices may provide additional insights into proton conduction in biological systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Chitosan / chemistry
  • Computer Simulation
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Hydrolysis
  • Hydroxides*
  • Maleates / chemistry
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Models, Molecular
  • Proline / chemistry
  • Protons*
  • Semiconductors*
  • Water / chemistry


  • Hydroxides
  • Maleates
  • Protons
  • Water
  • Chitosan
  • hydroxide ion
  • maleic acid
  • Proline