Ion Channel Mimetic Micropore and Nanotube Membrane Sensors


This paper describes synthetic micropore and nanotube membranes that mimic the function of a ligand-gated ion channel; that is, these membranes can be switched from an "off" state (no or low ion current through the membrane) to an "on" state (higher ion current) in response to the presence of a chemical stimulus. Ion channel mimics based on both microporous alumina and Au nanotube membranes were investigated. The off state was obtained by making the membranes hydrophobic by chemisorbing either a C18 silane (alumina membrane) or a C18 thiol (Au nanotube membrane). Water and electrolyte are forbidden from entering these very hydrophobic pores/nanotubes. The transition to the on state was induced by the partitioning of a hydrophobic ionic species (e.g., a drug or a surfactant) into the membrane. The membrane switches to the on state because at a sufficiently high concentration of this ionic analyte species, the pores/nanotubes flood with water and electrolyte. A pH-responsive membrane was also prepared by attaching a hydrophobic alkyl carboxylic acid silane to the alumina membrane.



Document Type





oxides, ions, membranes, hydrophobicity surfactants

Publication Date


Recommended Citation

Steinle, Erich D., David T. Mitchell, Marc Wirtz, Sang Bok Lee, Vaneica Y. Young, and Charles R. Martin. "Ion channel mimetic micropore and nanotube membrane sensors." Analytical chemistry 74, no. 10 (2002): 2416-2422.

Journal Title

Analytical chemistry