High and Stable Ionic Conductivity in 2D Nanofluidic Ion Channels between Boron Nitride Layers

Achieving a high rate of ionic transport through porous membranes and ionic channels is important in numerous applications ranging from energy storage to water desalination, but it still remains a challenge. Herein we show that ions can quickly pass through interlayer spaces in hydrated boron nitride (BN) membranes. Measurements of surface-charge governed ionic currents between BN nanosheets in a variety of salt solutions (KCl, NaCl and CaCl<sub>2</sub>) at low salt concentrations (<10<sup>–4</sup> M) showed several orders of magnitude higher ionic conductivity compared to that of the bulk solution. Moreover, due to the outstanding chemical and thermal stability of BN, the ionic conduits remain fully functional at temperatures up to 90 °C. The BN conduits can operate in acidic and basic environments and do not degrade after immersing in solutions with extreme pH (pH ∼ 0 or 14) for 1 week. Those excellent properties make the BN ionic conduits attractive for applications in nanofluidic devices and membrane separation.