Open Access Perspective Online first
A promising solution for highly reversible zinc metal anode chemistry: Functional gradient interphase
Nano Research Energy
Published: 18 September 2023

Rechargeable zinc (Zn) metal batteries have long been plagued by dendrite growth and parasitic reactions due to the absence of a stable Zn-ion conductive solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI). Although the current strategies assist in suppressing dendritic Zn growth, it is still a challenge to obtain the operation-stability of Zn anode with high Coulombic efficiency (CE) required to implement a sustainable and long-cycling life of Zn metal batteries. In this perspective, we summarize the advantages of the functional gradient interphase (FGI) and try to fundamentally understand the transport behaviors of Zn ions, based on recently an article understanding Zn chemistry. The correlation between the function-orientated design of gradient interphase and key challenges of Zn metal anodes in accelerating Zn2+ transport kinetics, improving electrode reversibility, and inhibiting Zn dendrite growth and side reactions was particularly emphasized. Finally, the rational design and innovative directions are provided for the development and application of functional gradient interphase in rechargeable Zn metal battery systems.

Research Article Issue
Temperature difference-enhanced salinity gradient energy conversion enabled by thermostable hydrogel membrane with anti-swelling property
Nano Research 2023, 16 (8): 11288-11295
Published: 13 June 2023

Coupling low-grade heat (LGH) with salinity gradient is an effective approach to increase the efficiency of the nanofluidic-membrane-based power generator. However, it is a challenge to fabricate membranes with high charge density that ensures ion permselectivity, while maintaining chemical and mechanical stability in this composite environment. Here, we develop a bis[2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl] phosphate (BMAP) hydrogel membrane with good thermal stability and anti-swelling property through self-crosslinking of the selected monomer. By taking advantage of negative space charge and three-dimensional (3D) interconnected nanochannels, salinity gradient energy conversion efficiency is substantially enhanced by temperature difference. Theoretical and experimental results verify that LGH can largely weaken the concentration polarization, promoting transmembrane ion transport. As a result, such a hydrogel membrane delivers high-performance energy conversion with a power density of 11.53 W·m−2 under a negative temperature difference (NTD), showing a 193% increase compared with that without NTD.

Review Article Issue
Photothermal regulated ion transport in nanofluidics: From fundamental principles to practical applications
Nano Research 2023, 16 (7): 10061-10071
Published: 14 April 2023

Light regulated ion transport across membranes is central to nature. Based on this, artificial nanofluidics with light driven ion transport behaviors has been developed for both fundamental study and practical applications. Here, we focus on recent progress in photothermal controlled ion transport systems and review the corresponding construction strategies in diverse photothermal nanofluidics with various dimensions and structures. We systematically emphasize the three underlying working principles including temperature gradient, water evaporation induced ion transport blockage, and evaporation gradient. On the basis of these fundamental research, photothermal regulated ion transport has been mainly introduced into ionic devices, desalination, and energy conversion. Furthermore, we provide some perspectives for the current challenges and future developments of this promising research field. We believe that this review could encourage further understanding and open the minds to develop new advances in this fertile research field.

Research Article Issue
A universal functionalization strategy for biomimetic nanochannel via external electric field assisted non-covalent interaction
Nano Research 2021, 14 (5): 1421-1428
Published: 15 November 2020

Biological ion channels, as fundamental units participating in various daily behaviors with incredible mass transportation and signal transmission, triggered booming researches on manufacturing their artificial prototypes. Biomimetic ion channel with the nanometer scale for smart responding functions has been successfully realized in sorts of materials by employing state-of-art nanotechnology. Ion track-etching technology, as crucial branches of fabricating solid-state nanochannels, exhibits outstanding advantages, such as easy fabrication, low cost, and high customization. To endow the nanochannel with smart responsibility, various modification methods are developed, including chemical grafting, non-covalent adsorption, and electrochemical deposition, enriching the reservoir of accessible stimuli-responses combinations, whereas were limited by their relatively lengthy and complex procedure. Here, based on the electric field induced self-assembly of polyelectrolytes, a universal customizable modifying strategy has been proposed, which exhibits superiorities in their functionalization with convenience and compatibility. By using this protocol, the channels’ ionic transport behaviors could be easily tuned, and even the specific ionic or molecular responding could be realized with superior performance. This strategy surely accelerates the nanochannels functionalization into fast preparing, high efficiency, and large-scale application scenarios.

Review Article Issue
Biomimetic smart nanochannels for power harvesting
Nano Research 2016, 9 (1): 59-71
Published: 22 January 2016

With the increasing requirements of reliable and environmentally friendly energy resources, porous materials for sustainable energy conversion technologies have attracted intensive interest in the past decades. As an important block of porous materials, biomimetic smart nanochannels (BSN) have been developed rapidly into an attractive field for their well-tunable geometry and chemistry. With inspiration from nature, many works have been reported to utilize BSN to harvest clean energy. In this review, we summarize recent progress in the BSN for power harvesting from four parts of brief introduction of BSN, biological prototypes for power harvesting, BSN-based energy conversion, and conclusion and outlook. Overall, by learning from nature, exploiting new avenues and improving the performance of BSN, a number of exciting developments in the near future may be anticipated.

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