Ionic Current Rectification Through Silica Nanopores

Eduardo Cruz-Chú, Aleksei Aksimentiev, and Klaus Schulten
J Phys Chem C Nanomater Interfaces 113(5) 1850 (2009)
DOI:10.1021/jp804724p  PMID:20126282  BibTex

Nanopores immersed in electrolytic solution and under the influence of an electric field can produce ionic current rectification, where ionic currents are higher for one voltage polarity than for the opposite polarity, resulting in an asymmetric current-voltage (I-V) curve. This behavior has been observed in polymer and silicon-based nanopores as well as in theoretically studied continuum models. By means of atomic level molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we have performed a systematic investigation of KCl conductance in silica nanopores with a total simulation time of 680 ns. We found that ion-binding spots at the silica surfaces, such as dangling atoms, have effects on the ion concentration and electrostatic potential inside the nanopore, producing asymmetric I-V curves. Conversely, silica surfaces without ion-binding spots produce symmetric I-V curves.