Synthetic nanotubes to mimic biological ion channels

Biological ion channels, made from proteins, form water-filled conduits across cell membranes such that charged particles can move in and out of the cell. Engineered channels, such as nanotubes, are far less complex than biological systems; yet, they have the ability to perform some of the functions biological ion channels carry out. The rapid improvement in the manufacture of nanostructures combined with increased sophistication of molecular, biological and theoretical approaches present exciting possibilities for the future development of practical nano-devices.

This project aims to design and fabricate nanotubes constructed from various materials (such as carbon) to selectively conduct either positive or negative ions across the cell membrane to kill bacteria such as tuberculosis. To be effective the nanotube must: only target and embed into bacteria cells; form an open channel spanning the entire membrane; and selectively allow positive or negative ions to move through the channel and across the membrane to destroy the membrane potential, thus killing the bacteria. Synthetic ion channels, once successfully designed and fabricated, may also be used for biosensors and desalination devices.

Recent papers from this project

  • Hilder. T. A., Gordon, D. and Chung, S. H. (2010). Synthetic chloride-selective carbon nanotubes examined using molecular and stochastic dynamics. Biophys. J. 99, 1734-1742.
  • Hilder, T. A., Yang, R., Ganesh, V., Gordon, D., Bliznyuk, A., Rendell, A. P. and Chung, S. H. (2010). On validity of current force fields for simulations on boron nitride nanotubes. Micro Nano Lett. 5, 150-156.
  • Hilder, T. A., Gordon, D. and Chung, S. H. (2009). Boron nitride nanotubes selectively permeable to cations or anions. Small 5, 2870-2875.
  • Hilder, T. A., Gordon, D. and Chung, S. H. (2009). Salt rejection and water transport through boron nitride nanotubes. Small 5, 2183-2190.