Properties and Potential Applications of Biomimetic and Bio-derived Nanofluidic Systems

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The branch of fluid dynamic that explore the flow of liquid in structure constrained to nanometer size regime (1-100nm) is defined as nanofluidic. Fluidic transport in and around nanofluidic structures is dominated by interactions of otherwise weak effects such as the formation of electrical double layers (EDL), attractive or repulsive forces of charged species, and entropic barriers. Typically, transport of charged species through nanometer-sized channels are dominated by the overlapping electrical double layers. One of the major difficulties in designing nanofluidic devices is the inherent complexity. The overall transport characteristics are determined by the interplay of various nanoscale or even molecular level physical, geometric, and chemical factors. Biological ion channels, however, are known for their capability of elaborately manipulating these factors to regulate the transmembrane ionic flow, which plays a crucial role in a number of physiological processes. Mimicking the biological systems researchers has tried to demonstrate its artificial counterparts. In light of this feature, various ion-channel-mimetic smart 1D nanofluidic systems have been developed that can reproduce functions analogous to its parent biological systems. Although systematic research in single-pore devices makes the physical picture of this nanofluidic process much clear, it is still far from competent for practical applications. Toward practical applications, one major challenge is to extrapolate individual nanofluidic devices to macroscopic platform in a cost-efficient way. Interestingly solution to the above mentioned dilemma was also resolved from natural inspirations in the form of lamellar microstructure of nacre, in which soft materials (polysaccharides and proteins) are sandwiched between hard inorganic layers (aragonite platelets), forming an alternatively arranged layered structure. This novel method of material designing and large-scale integration of individual artificial nanofluidic channels into a macroscopic platform give birth a new research filed known as the 2D nanofluidics. Via a simple vacuum filtration process, colloidal dispersions of individual 2D nanosheets can be reassembled into a densely stacked multi-layered structure. The interstitial space between opposite 2D nanosheets can be treated as lamellar channels for mass and charge transport.
Supervisor: Raidongia, Kalyan