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Title: History-dependent ion transport through conical nanopipettes and the implications in energy conversion dynamics at nanoscale interfaces

The dynamics of ion transport at nanostructured substrate–solution interfaces play vital roles in high-density energy conversion, stochastic chemical sensing and biosensing, membrane separation, nanofluidics and fundamental nanoelectrochemistry. Advancements in these applications require a fundamental understanding of ion transport at nanoscale interfaces. The understanding of the dynamic or transient transport, and the key physical process involved, is limited, which contrasts sharply with widely studied steady-state ion transport features at atomic and nanometer scale interfaces. Here we report striking time-dependent ion transport characteristics at nanoscale interfaces in current–potential (I–V) measurements and theoretical analyses. First, a unique non-zero I–V cross-point and pinched I–V curves are established as signatures to characterize the dynamics of ion transport through individual conical nanopipettes. Moreoever, ion transport against a concentration gradient is regulated by applied and surface electrical fields. The concept of ion pumping or separation is demonstrated via the selective ion transport against concentration gradients through individual nanopipettes. Third, this dynamic ion transport process under a predefined salinity gradient is discussed in the context of nanoscale energy conversion in supercapacitor type charging–discharging, as well as chemical and electrical energy conversion. Our analysis of the emerging current–potential features establishes the urgently needed physical foundation for energy conversion employingmore » ordered nanostructures. The elucidated mechanism and established methodology can be generalized into broadly-defined nanoporous materials and devices for improved energy, separation and sensing applications.« less
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  1. Georgia State Univ., Atlanta, GA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; 1059022
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Chemical Science
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-6520
Royal Society of Chemistry
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Country of Publication:
United States