A novel biomimetic ion-responsive multi-nanochannel system is constructed by covalently immobilizing a metal-chelating ligand, 2,2′-dipicolylamine (DPA), in polyporous nanochannels prepared in a polymeric membrane. The DPA-modified multi-nanochannels show specific recognition of zinc ions over other common metal ions, and the zinc-ion-chelated nanochannels can be used as secondary sensors for HPO42− anions. The immobilized DPA molecules act as specific-receptor binding sites for zinc ions, which leads to the highly selective zinc-ion response through monitoring of ionic current signatures. The chelated zinc ions can be used as secondary recognition elements for the capture of HPO42− anions, thereby fabricating a sensing nanodevice for HPO42− anions. The success of the DPA immobilization and ion-responsive events is confirmed by measurement of the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), contact angle (CA), and current–voltage (I–V) characteristics of the systems. The proposed nanochannel sensing devices display remarkable specificity, high sensitivity, and wide dynamic range. In addition, control experiments performed in complex matrices suggest that this sensing system has great potential applications in chemical sensing, biotechnology, and many other fields.
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