2D-dual-spacing channel membranes for high performance organic solvent nanofiltration

Shaofei Wang, Dinesh Mahalingam, Burhannudin Sutisna, Suzana Pereira Nunes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Two-dimensional (2D) lamellar membranes are highly advantageous in molecular separations. However, the permeance-rejection trade-off is always a major challenge, since the permeant transport mostly occurs in single-spacing channels with undesired microenvironments. Inspired by the structure of aquaporins, we design alternating dual-spacing channel graphene oxide (GO) membranes, with locally tailored chemical microenvironments, that give high permeance, high rejection and high stability in organic solvent nanofiltration. This unique structure is easily constructed by in situ intercalating and cross-linking scattered sub-5 nm silica nanoparticles in the GO interlayers. The hydrophilic nanoparticles locally widen the interlayer channels to enhance the solvent permeance. In the alternating nanoparticle-free areas, the GO layers simultaneously bend and the π–π interactions retain the narrow and hydrophobic channels, promoting high solute rejection. With a 10-fold increase in water permeance and unaffected rejection, the dual-spacing channel membranes exhibit one of the best performances for organic solvent nanofiltration. The methanol permeance reaches 290 L m−2 h−1 bar−1, with more than 90% rejection of dyes larger than 1.5 nm. This new approach of designing hierarchical channels in 2D materials can be used for a wide spectrum of applications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11673-11682
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): URF/1/1971-32-599 01, URF/1/1971-33-01, URF/1/3441-01-01
Acknowledgements: The authors thank King Abdullah University of Science and Technology for the financial support, in particular the Water Desalination and Reuse Center for the grants URF/1/1971-32-599 01 and URF/1/1971-33-01 and OSR for CRG6 grant URF/1/3441-01-01.


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