Scientists have invented artificial pores as small as the ones in your cells—something unimaginable until now. These sub-nanometer synthetic pores are so tiny that they can distinguish between ions of different substances, just like a real cell.
It’s an amazing engineering feat. Once they tune them to detect different substances, researchers claim that this seemingly miraculous matter would be able to do truly incredible things, from “purifying water to kill tumors and diseases by regulating the substances inside of cells.”
The scientists used the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory to create the pores, gluing donut-shaped molecules—called rigid macrocycles—on top of each other using hydrogen bonding. According to one of the senior authors of the study, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Ameritas University’s chemistry professor Xiao Cheng Zeng—”this nanotube can be viewed as a stack of many, many rings. The rings come together through a process called self-assembly, and it’s very precise. It’s the first synthetic nanotube that has a very uniform diameter.” They are about 8.8 angstroms thick, just one tenth of a nanometer.