Self-assembled two-dimensional nanofluidic proton channels with high thermal stability

Nat Commun. 2015 Jul 13;6:7602. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8602.


Exfoliated two-dimensional (2D) sheets can readily stack to form flexible, free-standing films with lamellar microstructure. The interlayer spaces in such lamellar films form a percolated network of molecularly sized, 2D nanochannels that could be used to regulate molecular transport. Here we report self-assembled clay-based 2D nanofluidic channels with surface charge-governed proton conductivity. Proton conductivity of these 2D channels exceeds that of acid solution for concentrations up to 0.1 M, and remains stable as the reservoir concentration is varied by orders of magnitude. Proton transport occurs through a Grotthuss mechanism, with activation energy and mobility of 0.19 eV and 1.2 × 10(-3) cm(2) V(-1) s(-1), respectively. Vermiculite nanochannels exhibit extraordinary thermal stability, maintaining their proton conduction functions even after annealing at 500 °C in air. The ease of constructing massive arrays of stable 2D nanochannels without lithography should prove useful to the study of confined ionic transport, and will enable new ionic device designs.

Publication types

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