Electric field modulation of the membrane potential in solid-state ion channels

Weihua Guan, Mark A. Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Biological ion channels are molecular devices that allow a rapid flow of ions across the cell membrane. Normal physiological functions, such as generating action potentials for cell-to-cell communication, are highly dependent on ion channels that can open and close in response to external stimuli for regulating ion permeation. Mimicking these biological functions using synthetic structures is a rapidly progressing yet challenging area. Here we report the electric field modulation of the membrane potential phenomena in mechanically and chemically robust solid-state ion channels, an abiotic analogue to the voltage-gated ion channels in living systems. To understand the complex physicochemical processes in the electric field regulated membrane potential behavior, both quasi-static and transient characteristics of converting transmembrane ion gradients into electric potential are investigated. It is found that the transmembrane potential can be adequately tuned by an external electrical stimulation, thanks to the unique properties of the voltage-regulated selective ion transport through a nanoscale channel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6441-6447
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 12 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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