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Carbohydrate -actuated nanofluidic diode: switchable current rectification in a nanopipette


Nanofluidic structures share many properties with ligand-gated ion channels. However, actuating ion conductance in artificial systems is a challenge. We have designed a system that uses a carbohydrate-responsive polymer to modulate ion conductance in a quartz nanopipette. The cationic polymer, a poly(vinylpyridine) quaternized with benzylboronic acid groups, undergoes a transition from swollen to collapsed upon binding to monosaccharides. As a result, the current rectification in nanopipettes can be reversibly switched depending on the concentration of monosaccharides. Such molecular actuation of nanofluidic conductance may be used in novel sensors and drug delivery systems.

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