Water and Ion Transfer to Narrow Carbon Nanotubes: Roles of Exterior and Interior

Vadim Neklyudov, Viatcheslav Freger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Narrow carbon nanotubes (CNTs) desalinate water, mimicking water channels of biological membranes, yet the physics behind selectivity, especially the effect of the membrane embedding CNTs on water and ion transfer, is still unclear. Here, we report ab initio analysis of the energies involved in transfer of water and K+ and Cl- ions from solution to empty and water-filled 0.68 nm CNTs for different dielectric constants (ϵ) of the surrounding matrix. The transfer energies computed for 1 ≤ ϵ < ∞ permit a transparent breakdown of the transfer energy to three main contributions: binding to CNT, intra-CNT hydration, and dielectric polarization of the matrix. The latter scales inversely with ϵ and is of the order 102/ϵ kJ/mol for both ions, which may change ion transfer from favorable to unfavorable, depending on ion, ϵ, and CNT diameter. This may have broad implications for designing and tuning selectivity of nanochannel-based devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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