Designing artificial cells to harness the biological ion concentration gradient.
ABSTRACT Cell membranes contain numerous nanoscale conductors in the form of ion channels and ion pumps that work together to form ion concentration gradients across the membrane to trigger the release of an action potential. It seems natural to ask if artificial cells can be built to use ion transport as effectively as natural cells. Here we report a mathematical calculation of the conversion of ion concentration gradients into action potentials across different nanoscale conductors in a model electrogenic cell (electrocyte) of an electric eel. Using the parameters extracted from the numerical model, we designed an artificial cell based on an optimized selection of conductors. The resulting cell is similar to the electrocyte but has higher power output density and greater energy conversion efficiency. We suggest methods for producing these artificial cells that could potentially be used to power medical implants and other tiny devices.
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ABSTRACT: Electrolyte transport in nanochannels plays an important role in a number of emerging areas. Using non-equilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulations, the fundamental transport behavior of an electrolyte/water solution in a confined model nanoenvironment is systematically investigated by varying the nanochannel dimension, solid phase, electrolyte phase, ion concentration and transport rate. It is found that the shear resistance encountered by the nanofluid strongly depends on these material/system parameters; furthermore, several effects are coupled. The mechanisms of the nanofluidic transport characteristics are explained by considering the unique molecular/ion structure formed inside the nanochannel. The lower shear resistance observed in some of the systems studies could be beneficial for nanoconductors, while the higher shear resistance (or higher effective viscosity) observed in other systems might enhance the performance of energy dissipation devices.Journal of Physics Condensed Matter 08/2010; 22(31):315301. · 2.55 Impact Factor