Light-Driven Ion Transport through Single-Heterojunction Nanopores

Nano Lett. 2023 Feb 8;23(3):1010-1016. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.2c04507. Epub 2023 Jan 24.


Inspired by natural photosynthesis, light has become an emerging ionic behavior regulator and ion-pumping source. Nanoprocessing technology has allowed the bridge between the light-regulated nanofluids and the optoelectronic properties of two-dimensional (2D) materials, which inspires applications like energy harvesting and enhances fundamental understandings in nanofluidics. However, unlike light-induced ion pumping based on densely layered membranes with multiple nanochannels, experimental implementation on atomically thin materials featuring only a single nanochannel remains challenging. Here, we report light-induced ion pumping based on a single artificial heterojunction nanopore. Under light illumination, the induced current through a single nanopore reaches tens of picoamperes. The hole-electron separation originating from the optoelectrical property of a van der Waals PN junction is proposed to capture the light-driven ion transport. Further, different methods are adopted to modify the ion behavior and response time, presenting potential applications in fluidic photoenergy harvesting, photoelectric ion transport control, and bionic artificial neurons.

Keywords: ion pumping; nanofluidics; nanopore; photodriven ion transport; van der Waals heterojunction.