Atoms-to-microns model for small solute transport through sticky nanochannels

Rogan Carr, Jeffrey Comer, Mark D. Ginsberg, and Aleksei Aksimentiev
Lab Chip 11(22) 3766-73 (2011)
DOI:10.1039/c1lc20697d  PMID:21986816  BibTex

Modeling the transport of solutes through fluidic systems that have adsorbing surfaces is challenging due to the range of length and time scales involved. The components of such systems typically have dimensions from hundreds of nanometres to microns, whereas adsorption of solutes is sensitive to the atomic-scale structure of the solutes and surfaces. Here, we describe an atomic-resolution Brownian dynamics method for modeling the transport of solutes through sticky nanofluidic channels. Our method can fully recreate the results of all-atom molecular dynamics simulations at a fraction of the computational cost of the latter, which makes simulations of micron-size channels at a millisecond time scale possible without losing information about the atomic-scale features of the system. We demonstrate the capability of our method by simulating the rise and fall of solute concentration in sub-micron-long sticky nanochannels, showing that the atomic-scale features of the channels' surfaces have a dramatic effect on the kinetics of solute transport in and out of the channels. We expect our method to find applications in design and optimization of micro and nanofluidic systems for solute-specific transport and to complement existing approaches to modeling lab-on-a-chip devices by providing atomic scale information at a low computational cost.