Indexed on: 08 Mar '08Published on: 08 Mar '08Published in: Journal of the American Chemical Society
We report on a simple, quantitative relationship between structure and permeability of a novel ultrathin nanoporous membrane based on nanocrystalline silicon. Large permeability of the free-standing nanomembrane to Ru(NH3)63+, O2, or 1,1'-ferrocenedimethanol, which was able to be measured for the first time by employing scanning electrochemical microscopy, is proportional to the density (67 mum-2) and average radius (5.6 nm) of nanopores. As solution electrolyte concentration decreases down to 0.01 M, the nanopores are selectively "closed" against Fe(CN)64- because of electrostatic repulsion against negative charges at the pore wall. Permeability of the silicon nanomembrane was compared to permeability of the nuclear envelope to find that the channel diameter of the nuclear pore complex that perforates the nuclear envelope is much larger than the average diameter of the silicon nanopores and concomitantly a hypothetical diameter of 10 nm.