Engineering solid nanochannels with macrocyclic host-guest chemistry for stimuli responses and molecular separations

Chem Commun (Camb). 2023 Feb 14;59(14):1907-1916. doi: 10.1039/d2cc06562b.


Biological channels in the cell membrane play a critical role in the regulation of signal transduction and transmembrane transport. Researchers have been committed to building biomimetic nanochannels to imitate the above significant biological processes. Unlike the fragile feature of biological channels, numerous solid nanochannels have aroused extensive interests for their controllable chemical properties on the surface and superior mechanical properties. Surface functionalization has been confirmed to be vital to determine the properties of solid nanochannels. Macrocyclic hosts (e.g., the crown ethers, cyclodextrins, calix[n]arenes, cucurbit[n]urils, pillar[n]arenes, and trianglamine) can be tailored to the interior surface of the nanochannels with the performance of stimuli response and separation. Macrocycles have good reversibility and high selectivity toward specific ions or molecules, promoting functionalies of solid nanochannels. Hence, the combination of macrocyclic hosts and solid nanochannels is conducive to taking both advantages and achieving applications in functional nanochannels (e.g., membranes separations, biosensors, and smart devices). In this review, the most recent advances in nanochannel membranes decorated by macrocyclic host-guest chemistry are briefed. A variety of macrocyclic hosts-based responsive nanochannels are organized (e.g., the physical stimuli and specific molecules or ions stimuli) and nanochannels are separated (e.g., water purifications, enantimerseparations, and organic solvent nanofiltration), respectively. Hopefully, this review can enlighten on how to effectively build functional nanochannels and facilitate their practical applications in membrane separations.

Publication types

  • Review