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Propagation of Concentration Polarization Affecting Ions Transport in Branching Nanochannel Array

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journal contribution
posted on 18.08.2015 by Cheng-Yong Li, Zeng-Qiang Wu, Chun-Ge Yuan, Kang Wang, Xing-Hua Xia
A new ionic current rectification device responsive to a broad range of pH stimuli has been fabricated using porous anodic alumina membrane with tailor-made branching nanochannel array. The asymmetric geometry is achieved by changing oxidation voltage using a simple two-step anodization process. Due to the protonation/deprotonation of the intrinsic hydroxyl groups upon solution pH variation, the nanochannels array-based device is able to regulate ionic current rectification properties. The ion rectification ratio of the device is mainly determined by the branching size and surface charges, which is also confirmed by theoretical simulations. In addition, theoretical simulations show that the slight difference in ion rectification ratio for the nanochannel devices with different branching numbers is due to the propagation of concentration polarization. Three dimensional simulations clearly show the nonuniform concentration profiles in stem nanochannel near the junction interface due to the presence of branching nanochannels. The present ionic device is promising for biosensing, molecular transport and separation, and drug delivery in confined environments.