Foldamer-based ultrapermeable and highly selective artificial water channels that exclude protons

Arundhati Roy, Jie Shen, Himanshu Joshi, Woochul Song, Yu Ming Tu, Ratul Chowdhury, Ruijuan Ye, Ning Li, Changliang Ren, Manish Kumar, Aleksei Aksimentiev, Huaqiang Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 separation 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 a class of biomimetic, helically folded pore-forming polymeric foldamers that can serve as long-sought-after highly selective ultrafast water-conducting channels with performance exceeding those of AQPs (1.1 × 1010 water molecules per second for AQP1), 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, namely, 2.5 times that of AQP1, while concurrently rejecting salts (NaCl and KCl) and even protons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-917
Number of pages7
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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