Ion transport in nanoscale channels has recently received increasing attention. Much of that has resulted from experiments that report modulation of ion transport through the protein ion channel, α-hemolysin, due to passage of single biomolecules of DNA or proteins [1]. This has prompted research towards fabricating synthetic nanopores out of inorganic materials and studying biomolecular transport through them [2]. Recently, the synthesis of arrays of silica nanotubes with internal diameters in the range of 5–100 nm and with lengths 1–20 μm was reported [3]. These tubes could potentially allow new ways of detecting and manipulating single biomolecules and new types of devices to control ion transport. Theoretical modeling of ionic distribution and transport in silica nanotubes, 30 nm in diameter and 5 μm long, suggest that when the diameter is smaller than the Debye length, a unipolar solution of counterions is created within the nanotube and the coions are electrostatically repelled [4]. We proposed two different types of devices to use this unipolar nature of solution, i.e. ‘transistor’ and ‘battery’. When the electric potential bias is applied at two ends of a nanotube, ionic current is generated. By locally modifying the surface charge density through a gate electrode, the concentration of counterions can be depleted under the gate and the ionic current can be significantly suppressed. This could form the basis of a unipolar ionic field-effect transistor. By applying the pressure bias instead of electric potential bias, the fluid flow is generated. Because only the counterions are located inside the channel, the streaming current and streaming potential are generated. This could form the basis of an electro-chemo-mechanical battery. In the present study, transport phenomena in nanofluidic channels were investigated and the performance characteristics were evaluated using continuum dynamics.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.