Cellular Biology: Electrons & Ions - same difference

March 30, 2016 | 12:00
Cellular Biology: Electrons & Ions - same difference © lben.epfl.ch
Cellular Biology: Electrons & Ions - same difference © lben.epfl.ch
Cell membranes have tiny channels called ionic canals, because they assist the passage at high speed of certain ions.  Their role is central notably in the workings of neurons, muscle cells or heart cells.  But their complexity is such that numerous questions remain. How do these canals choose the ions? How can we explain the strong conductivity of these passages, which allow ions to travel at such high speeds? Researchers from Biology Labs and of electronics at nanometer scale at the EFP at Lausanne have shown that the transport of ions is similar to that of electrons. For this they have created an artificial ionic canal by making a a tiny hole of less than a nanometer in a two­‑dimensional material called Molybdenum disulphide.   They then placed this material between two electrodes with an ionized liquid on both sides.  Applying a voltage allowed variations in current between the two chambers to be measured.  In a traditional system, where the hole is larger (>1nm) the flow of io...

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