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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Jul 14;97(2):024501. Epub 2006 Jul 10.

Molecular understanding of osmosis in semipermeable membranes.

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Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, 61801, USA.


We investigate single-file osmosis of water through a semipermeable membrane with an uncharged, a positively and a negatively charged nanopore. Molecular dynamics simulations indicate that the osmotic flux through a negatively charged pore (J_) is higher compared to the osmotic flux in a positively charged pore (J+) followed by the osmotic flux in the uncharged pore (J(0)), i.e., J_ > J+ > J(0). The molecular mechanisms governing osmosis, steady state osmosis, and the observed osmotic flux dependence on the nanopore charge are explained by computing all the molecular interactions involved and identifying the molecular interactions that play an important role during and after osmosis. This study helps in a fundamental understanding of osmosis and in the design of advanced nanoporous membranes for various applications of osmosis.

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