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April 2016

Carbon Nanotubes Move into the Fast Lane

Building off of their previous work demonstrating that short carbon nanotubes can make excellent artificial pores within cell membranes, Molecular Foundry users have now shown that carbon nanotubes can transport protons faster than bulk water, by an order of magnitude. What's more, the transport rates in these nanotube pores, which form one-dimensional water wires, also exceed those of biological channels and man-made proton conductors, making carbon nanotubes the fastest known proton conductor. 

To date, man-made proton conductors, such as those made with the polymer Nafion, use a different principle to enhance proton transport.  By mimicking the way biological systems enhance proton transport and tooking it to the extreme, the team has created a system that realizes the ultimate limit of proton conductivity in a nanopore.

Practical applications include proton exchange membranes, proton-based signaling in biological systems and the emerging field of proton bioelectronics (protonics).

Read the full press release.