Carbon Nanotubes as Molecular Conduits: Advances and Challenges for Transport through Isolated Sub-2 nm Pores

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Year: 2011
Type of Publication: Article
  • Zachary W. Ulissi, Chang Young Lee Steven Shimizu
Journal: Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters Volume: 2
Number: 22 Pages: 2892-2896
Month: NOV 17 2011
PT: J; TC: 1; UT: WOS:000297195600011
Devices that explore transport through the narrowest diameter single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have only recently been enabled by advances in SWCNT synthesis methods and experimental design. These devices hold promise as next-generation sensors, platforms for water desalination, proton conduction, energy storage, and to directly probe molecular transport under significant geometric confinement In this Perspective, we first describe this new generation of devices and then highlight two important concepts that have emerged from recent work. First, the most reliable way to identify transport is to borrow techniques from the biological and silicon nanopore communities and analyze the discrete stochastic events caused by molecules blocking the SWCNT channel. Second, it is nearly impossible to isolate mass transport within a SWCNT without a substantial suppression of leakage transport and around the SWCNT. To highlight this, we discuss experiments showing water transport along the exterior of SWCNTs. Finally, we describe some further innovations to these devices in the near future that will allow for a more complete understanding of confined molecular transport.