Energetics of water permeation through fullerene membrane

Hiroyuki Isobe, Atsuya Homma, Eiichi Nakamura

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Lipid bilayer membranes are important as fundamental structures in biology and possess characteristic water-permeability, stability, and mechanical properties. Water permeation through a lipid bilayer membrane occurs readily, and more readily at higher temperature, which is largely due to an enthalpy cost of the liquid-to-gas phase transition of water. A fullerene bilayer membrane formed by dissolution of a water-soluble fullerene, Ph5C 60K, has now been shown to possess properties entirely different from those of the lipid membranes. The fullerene membrane is several orders of magnitude less permeable to water than a lipid membrane, and the permeability decreases at higher temperature. Water permeation is burdened by a very large entropy loss and may be favored slightly by an enthalpy gain, which is contrary to the energetics observed for the lipid membrane. We ascribe this energetics to favorable interactions of water molecules to the surface of the fullerene molecules as they pass through the clefts of the rigid fullerene bilayer. The findings provide possibilities of membrane design in science and technology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)14895-14898
    Number of pages4
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number38
    Publication statusPublished - 2007 Sep 18


    • Bilayer membrane
    • Entropy barrier
    • Vesicle

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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