Electric fields can control the transport of water in carbon nanotubes

Ritos, Konstantinos and Borg, Matthew K. and Mottram, Nigel J. and Reese, Jason M. (2016) Electric fields can control the transport of water in carbon nanotubes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, 374 (2060). 20150025. ISSN 1471-2962 (https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2015.0025)

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The properties of water confined inside nanotubes are of considerable scientific and technological interest. We use molecular dynamics to investigate the structure and average orientation of water flowing within a carbon nanotube. We find that water exhibits biaxial paranematic liquid crystal ordering both within the nanotube and close to its ends. This preferred molecular ordering is enhanced when an axial electric field is applied, affecting the water flow rate through the nanotube. A spatially patterned electric field can minimize nanotube entrance effects and significantly increase the flow rate.