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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2011 Sep 14;13(34):15403-17. doi: 10.1039/c1cp21086f. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

Single-file water in nanopores.

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Laboratory of Chemical Physics, Bldg. 5, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Water molecules confined to pores with sub-nanometre diameters form single-file hydrogen-bonded chains. In such nanoscale confinement, water has unusual physical properties that are exploited in biology and hold promise for a wide range of biomimetic and nanotechnological applications. The latter can be realized by carbon and boron nitride nanotubes which confine water in a relatively non-specific way and lend themselves to the study of intrinsic properties of single-file water. As a consequence of strong water-water hydrogen bonds, many characteristics of single-file water are conserved in biological and synthetic pores despite differences in their atomistic structures. Charge transport and orientational order in water chains depend sensitively on and are mainly determined by electrostatic effects. Thus, mimicking functions of biological pores with apolar pores and corresponding external fields gives insight into the structure-function relation of biological pores and allows the development of technical applications beyond the molecular devices found in living systems. In this Perspective, we revisit results for single-file water in apolar pores, and examine the similarities and the differences between these simple systems and water in more complex pores.

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