Ion channels are part of nature's solution for regulating biological environments. Every ion channel consists of a chain of amino acids carrying a strong and sharply varying permanent charge, folded in such a way that it creates a nanoscopic aqueous pore spanning the otherwise mostly impermeable membranes of biological cells. These naturally occurring proteins are particularly interesting to device engineers seeking to understand how such nanoscale systems realize device-like functions. Availability of high-resolution structural information from X-ray crystallography, as well as large-scale computational resources, makes it possible to conduct realistic ion channel simulations. In general, a hierarchy of simulation methodologies is needed to study different aspects of a biological system like ion channels. Biology Monte Carlo (BioMOCA), a three-dimensional coarse-grained particle ion channel simulator, offers a powerful and general approach to study ion channel permeation. BioMOCA is based on the Boltzmann Transport Monte Carlo (BTMC) and Particle-Particle-Particle-Mesh (P3M) methodologies developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this paper we briefly discuss the various approaches to simulating ion flow in channel systems that are currently being pursued by the biophysics and engineering communities, and present the effect of having anisotropic dielectric constants on ion flow through a number of nanopores with different effective diameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-109
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Computational Electronics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Boltzmann Poisson equation
  • Drift-diffusion simulation
  • Ion channel
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Monte Carlo simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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