Self-assembling subnanometer pores with unusual mass-transport properties

Xibin Zhou, Guande Liu, Kazuhiro Yamato, Yi Shen, Ruixian Cheng, Xiaoxi Wei, Wanli Bai, Yi Gao, Hui Li, Yi Liu, Futao Liu, Daniel M. Czajkowsky, Jingfang Wang, Michael J. Dabney, Zhonghou Cai, Jun Hu, Frank V. Bright, Lan He, Xiao Cheng Zeng, Zhifeng ShaoBing Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


A long-standing aim in molecular self-assembly is the development of synthetic nanopores capable of mimicking the mass-transport characteristics of biological channels and pores. Here we report a strategy for enforcing the nanotubular assembly of rigid macrocycles in both the solid state and solution based on the interplay of multiple hydrogen-bonding and aromatic π-π stacking interactions. The resultant nanotubes have modifiable surfaces and inner pores of a uniform diameter defined by the constituent macrocycles. The self-assembling hydrophobic nanopores can mediate not only highly selective transmembrane ion transport, unprecedented for a synthetic nanopore, but also highly efficient transmembrane water permeability. These results establish a solid foundation for developing synthetically accessible, robust nanostructured systems with broad applications such as reconstituted mimicry of defined functions solely achieved by biological nanostructures, molecular sensing, and the fabrication of porous materials required for water purification and molecular separations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number949
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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