This is the first instance of an artificial nanometer-sized channel that can truly emulate the key water transport features of these biological water channels. And it could improve the ability of membranes to efficiently filter out unwanted molecules and elements, while speeding up water transport, making it cheaper to create a clean supply. “It copies nature, but it does so by breaking the rules nature has established,” said Manish Kumar, an assistant professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. “These channels facilitate speedy transport of molecules you want, like water, and block those you don’t want, like salt.” The research team’s artificial water channels can perform the same functions as aquaporins, which are crucial at a larger level for desalination, water purification and other processes for separating molecules. And they do so while transporting water 2.5 times faster compared to aquaporins.
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