Electric Field Induced Biomimetic Transmembrane Electron Transport Using Carbon Nanotube Porins

Jacqueline M. Hicks, Yun Chiao Yao, Sydney Barber, Nigel Neate, Julie A. Watts, Aleksandr Noy, Frankie J. Rawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cells modulate their homeostasis through the control of redox reactions via transmembrane electron transport systems. These are largely mediated via oxidoreductase enzymes. Their use in biology has been linked to a host of systems including reprogramming for energy requirements in cancer. Consequently, the ability to modulate membrane redox systems may give rise to opportunities to modulate underlying biology. The current work aims to develop a wireless bipolar electrochemical approach to form on-demand electron transfer across biological membranes. To achieve this goal, it is shown that by using membrane inserted carbon nanotube porins (CNTPs) that can act as bipolar nanoelectrodes, one can control electron flow with externally applied electric fields across membranes. Before this work, bipolar electrochemistry has been thought to require high applied voltages not compatible with biological systems. It is shown that bipolar electrochemical reaction via gold reduction at the nanotubes can be modulated at low cell-friendly voltages, providing an opportunity to use bipolar electrodes to control electron flux across membranes. The authors provide new mechanistic insight into this newly describe phenomena at the nanoscale. The results presented give rise to a new method using CNTPs to modulate cell behavior via wireless control of membrane electron transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2102517
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 12 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • bipolar electrochemistry
  • carbon nanotube porins
  • cell electrochemistry
  • membrane potential
  • trans-plasma membrane electron transport systems
  • voltage-dependent anion-selective channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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