Ion current rectification: from nanoscale to microscale

  • Tianyi Xiong
  • Kailin Zhang
  • Yanan Jiang
  • Ping YuEmail author
  • Lanqun MaoEmail author


Ion current rectification (ICR) is an electrodynamic phenomenon in electrolyte solution which is defined as the asymmetric potential-dependent ion flux through a confined environment, giving rise to asymmetric electrical current-voltage characteristics induced by the influence of an asymmetric electrical double layer structure. Since the discovery of the ICR phenomenon, the observation and application of ICR at nanoscale and microscale have been widely investigated experimentally and theoretically. Here, the recent progress of ICR from nanoscale to microscale is systematically reviewed. Nano/micropore structures of different materials, shapes and pore sizes are first discussed. Then, the factors influencing ICRs by thermodynamically or kinetically regulating the electrical double layer structure are introduced. Moreover, theoretical models are presented to explain the mechanism of ICRs. Based on the understanding of this phenomenon, the applications, especially in biosensors, are discussed. Finally, future developments of this area are briefly presented. This review covers the representative related literature published since 2010 and is intended to give a systematic introduction to this area.


ion current rectification ion transport nanopore nanochannel micropipette 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21775151, 21790053, 21475138 for P.Y., 21790390, 21790391, 21435007, 21621062 for L.M.), the National Basic Research Program of China (2016YFA0200104), the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB30000000), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (QYZDJSSW-SLH030).


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© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Living Biosystems, Institute of ChemistryChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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