Electrokinetic ion and fluid transport in nanopores functionalized by polyelectrolyte brushes
Chemically functionalized nanopores in solid-state membranes have recently emerged as versatile tools for regulating ion transport and sensing single biomolecules. This study theoretically investigated the importance of the bulk salt concentration, the geometries of the nanopore, and both the thickness and the grafting density of the polyelectrolyte (PE) brushes on the electrokinetic ion and fluid transport in two types of PE brush functionalized nanopore: PE brushes are end-grafted to the entire membrane surface (system I), and to its inner surface only (nanopore wall) (system II). Due to a more significant ion concentration polarization (CP), the enhanced local electric field inside the nanopore, the conductance, and the electroosmotic flow (EOF) velocity in system II are remarkably smaller than those in system I. In addition to a significantly enhanced EOF inside the nanopore, the direction of the flow field near both nanopore openings in system I is opposite to that of EOF inside the nanopore. This feature can be applied to regulate the electrokinetic translocation of biomolecules through a nanopore in the nanopore-based DNA sequencing platform.