Membranes containing cylindrical metal nanotubules that span the complete thickness of the membrane are described. The inside radius of the nanotubules can be varied at will; nanotubule radii as small as 0.8 nanometer are reported. These membranes show selective ion transport analogous to that observed in ion-exchange polymers. Ion perm-selectivity occurs because excess charge density can be present on the inner walls of the metal tubules. The membranes reject ions with the same sign as the excess charge and transport ions of the opposite sign. Because the sign of the excess charge on the tubule can be changed potentiostatically, a metal nanotubule membrane can be either cation selective or anion selective, depending on the potential applied to the membrane.
ASJC Scopus subject areas