An artificial sodium-selective subnanochannel

Jun Lu, Gengping Jiang, Huacheng Zhang*, Binbin Qian, Haijin Zhu, Qinfen Gu, Yuan Yan, Jefferson Zhe Liu*, Benny D. Freeman, Lei Jiang, Huanting Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Single-ion selectivity with high precision has long been pursued for fundamental bioinspired engineering and applications such as in ion separation and energy conversion. However, it remains a challenge to develop artificial ion channels to achieve single-ion selectivity comparable to their biological analogs, especially for high Na+/K+ selectivity. Here, we report an artificial sodium channel by subnanoconfinement of 4′-aminobenzo-15-crown-5 ethers (15C5s) into ~6-Å-sized metal-organic framework subnanochannel (MOFSNC). The resulting 15C5-MOFSNC shows an unprecedented Na+/K+ selectivity of tens to 102 and Na+/Li+ selectivity of 103 under multicomponent permeation conditions, comparable to biological sodium channels. A co–ion-responsive single-file transport mechanism in 15C-MOFSNC is proposed for the preferential transport of Na+ over K+ due to the synergetic effects of size exclusion, charge selectivity, local hydrophobicity, and preferential binding with functional groups. This study provides an alternative strategy for developing potential single-ion selective channels and membranes for many applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabq1369
JournalScience advances
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


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