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TITLE Nanochannels and nanodroplets in polymer membranes controlling ionic transport
KIAS AUTHORS Kim, Won Kyu
JOURNAL CURRENT OPINION IN COLLOID & INTERFACE SCIENCE, 2021
ARCHIVE  
ABSTRACT Polymer materials with low water uptake exhibit a highly heterogeneous interior characterized by water clusters in the form of nanodroplets and nanochannels. Here, based on our recent insights from computer simulations, we argue that the water cluster structure has large implications for ionic transport and selective permeability in polymer membranes. Importantly, we demonstrate that the two key quantities for transport, the ion diffusion and the solvation free energy inside the polymer, are extremely sensitive to molecular details of the water clusters. In particular, we highlight the significance of water droplet interface potentials and the nature of hopping diffusion through transient water channels. These mechanisms can be harvested and fine-tuned to optimize selectivity in ionic transport in a wide range of applications.
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