Organic Chemistry

Foldamer-Based Ultrapermeable and Highly Selective Artificial Water Channels that Exclude Protons

Abstract

The outstanding capacity of aquaporins (AQPs) for mediating highly selective superfast water transport1-7 has inspired recent development of supramolecular monovalent ion-excluding artificial water channels (AWCs). AWC-based bioinspired membranes are proposed for desalination, water purification, and other separations applications8-18. While some recent progress has been made in synthesizing AWCs that approach the water permeability and ion selectivity of AQPs, a hallmark feature of AQPs – high water transport while excluding protons has not been reproduced. We report on a class of biomimetic, helically folded pore-forming polymeric foldamers, that can serve as long sought-after highly selective ultrafast water-conducting channels exceeding those of AQPs (1.1 × 1010 H2O molecules/s for AQP17), with high water over monovalent ion transport selectivity (~108 water molecules over Cl- ion) conferred by the modularly tunable hydrophobicity of the interior pore surface. The best-performing AWC reported here delivers water transport at an exceptionally high rate, 2.5 times that of AQP1, while concurrently rejecting salts (NaCl and KCl) and even protons.

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As accepted version after peer review

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