Cell membranes control mass, energy, and information flow to and from the cell. In the cell membrane a lipid bilayer serves as the barrier layer, with highly efficient molecular machines, membrane proteins, serving as the transport elements. In this way, highly specialized transport properties are achieved by these composite materials by segregating the matrix function from the transport function using different components. For example, cell membranes containing aquaporin proteins can transport -4 billion water molecules per second per aquaporin while rejecting all other molecules including salts, a feat unmatched by any synthetic system, while the impermeable lipid bilayer provides the barrier and matrix properties. True separation of functions between the matrix and the transport elements has been difficult to achieve in conventional solute separation synthetic membranes. In this study, we created membranes with distinct matrix and transport elements through designed coassembly of solvent-stable artificial (peptide-appended pillararene, PAP5) or natural (gramicidin A) model channels with block copolymers into lamellar multilayered membranes. Self-assembly of a lamellar structure from cross-linkable triblock copolymers was used as a scalable replacement for lipid bilayers, offering better stability and mechanical properties. By coassembly of channel molecules with block copolymers, we were able to synthesize nanofiltration membranes with sharp selectivity profiles as well as uncharged ion exchange membranes exhibiting ion selectivity. The developed method can be used for incorporation of different artificial and biological ion and water channels into synthetic polymer membranes. The strategy reported here could promote the construction of a range of channel-based membranes and sensors with desired properties, such as ion separations, stimuli responsiveness, and high sensitivity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)