Highly permeable artificial water channels that can self-assemble into two-dimensional arrays

Yue Xiao Shen, Wen Si, Mustafa Erbakan, Karl Decker, Rita De Zorzi, Patrick O. Saboe, You Jung Kang, Sheereen Majd, Peter J. Butler, Thomas Walz, Aleksei Aksimentiev, Jun Li Hou, Manish Kumar, David A. Weitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Bioinspired artificial water channels aim to combine the high permeability and selectivity of biological aquaporin (AQP) water channels with chemical stability. Here, we carefully characterized a class of artificial water channels, peptide-appended pillar[5]arenes (PAPs). The average single-channel osmotic water permeability for PAPs is 1.0(±0.3) × 10-14 cm3/s or 3.5(±1.0) × 108 water molecules per s, which is in the range of AQPs (3.440.3 × 108 water molecules per s) and their current synthetic analogs, carbon nanotubes (CNTs, 9.0 × 108 water molecules per s). This permeability is an order of magnitude higher than first-generation artificial water channels (20 to 107 water molecules per s). Furthermore, within lipid bilayers, PAP channels can self-assemble into 2D arrays. Relevant to permeable membrane design, the pore density of PAP channel arrays (2.6 × 105 pores per μm2) is two orders of magnitude higher than that of CNT membranes (0.12.5 × 103 pores per μm2). PAP channels thus combine the advantages of biological channels and CNTs and improve upon them through their relatively simple synthesis, chemical stability, and propensity to form arrays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9810-9815
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015


  • Artificial aquaporins
  • Artificial water channels
  • Peptide-appended pillar[5]arene
  • Single-channel water permeability
  • Two-dimensional arrays


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