Ionic transport through nanofluidic systems is a problem of fundamental interest in transport physics and has broad relevance in desalination, fuel cells, batteries, filtration, and drug delivery. When the dimension of the fluidic system approaches the size of molecules in solution, fluid properties are not homogeneous and a departure in behavior is observed with respect to continuum-based theories. Here we present a systematic study of the transport of charged and neutral small molecules in an ideal nanofluidic platform with precise channels from the sub-microscale to the ultra-nanoscale (<5 nm). Surprisingly, we find that diffusive transport of nano-confined neutral molecules matches that of charged molecules, as though the former carry an effective charge. Further, approaching the ultra-nanoscale molecular diffusivities suddenly drop by up to an order of magnitude for all molecules, irrespective of their electric charge. New theoretical investigations will be required to shed light onto these intriguing results.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)