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Title: Liquid-based gating mechanism with tunable multiphase selectivity and antifouling behaviour

Living organisms make extensive use of micro- and nanometre-sized pores as gatekeepers for controlling the movement of fluids, vapours and solids between complex environments. The ability of such pores to coordinate multiphase transport, in a highly selective and subtly triggered fashion and without clogging, has inspired interest in synthetic gated pores for applications ranging from fluid processing to 3D printing and lab-on-chip systems(1-10). But although specific gating and transport behaviours have been realized by precisely tailoring pore surface chemistries and pore geometries(6,11-17), a single system capable of controlling complex, selective multiphase transport has remained a distant prospect, and fouling is nearly inevitable(11,12). Here we introduce a gating mechanism that uses a capillary-stabilized liquid as a reversible, reconfigurable gate that fills and seals pores in the closed state, and creates a non-fouling, liquid-lined pore in the open state. Theoretical modelling and experiments demonstrate that for each transport substance, the gating threshold-the pressure needed to open the pores-can be rationally tuned over a wide pressure range. This enables us to realize in one system differential response profiles for a variety of liquids and gases, even letting liquids flow through the pore while preventing gas from escaping. These capabilities allow us to dynamicallymore » modulate gas-liquid sorting in a microfluidic flow and to separate a three-phase air-water-oil mixture, with the liquid lining ensuring sustained antifouling behaviour. Because the liquid gating strategy enables efficient long-term operation and can be applied to a variety of pore structures and membrane materials, and to micro- as well as macroscale fluid systems, we expect it to prove useful in a wide range of applications.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Nature; Journal Volume: 519; Journal Issue: 7541
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
Country of Publication:
United States