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J Am Chem Soc. 2018 Apr 4;140(13):4552-4559. doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b13136. Epub 2018 Mar 21.

Light- and Electric-Field-Controlled Wetting Behavior in Nanochannels for Regulating Nanoconfined Mass Transport.

Xie G1,2,3, Li P2,4, Zhao Z5, Zhu Z2,3, Kong XY2, Zhang Z1,3, Xiao K1,3, Wen L2,4,3, Jiang L2,4,3.

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Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences (BNLMS), Key Laboratory of Green Printing, Institute of Chemistry , Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100190 , P. R. China.
Key Laboratory of Bio-inspired Materials and Interfacial Science, Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry , Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100190 , P. R. China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100049 , P. R. China.
Key Laboratory of Bio-Inspired Smart Interfacial Science and Technology of Ministry of Education School of Chemistry and Environment , Beihang University , Beijing 100191 , P. R. China.
College of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology , Xingtai University , Xingtai 054001 , P. R. China.


Water wetting behavior in nanoconfined environments plays an important role in mass transport and signal transmission of organisms. It is valuable and challenging to investigate how water behaves in such a nanometer-scale with external stimuli, in particular with electric field and light. Unfortunately, the mechanism of hydrophobic reaction inside the nanospaces is still obscure and lacks experimental support for the current electric-field- or photoresponsive nanochannels which suffer from fragility or monofunctionality. Here, we design functionalized hydrophobic nanopores to regulate ion transport by light and electric field using azobenzene-derivatives-modified polymer nanochannels. With these addressable features, we can control the pore surface wetting behavior to switch the nanochannels between nonconducting and conducting states. Furthermore, we found these hydrophobic nanochannels are rough with a contact angle of 67.3°, making them extremely different from the familiar ones with a smooth pore surface and larger contact angles (>90°). These findings point to new opportunities for studying and manipulating water behavior in nanoconfined environments.


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