Highly Hydrophilic Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) Ultrafiltration Membranes via Postfabrication Grafting of Surface-Tailored Silica Nanoparticles

Shuai Liang, Yan Kang, Alberto Tiraferri, Emmanuel P. Giannelis, Xia Huang, Menachem Elimelech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

290 Scopus citations


Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) has drawn much attention as a predominant ultrafiltration (UF) membrane material due to its outstanding mechanical and physicochemical properties. However, current applications suffer from the low fouling resistance of the PVDF membrane due to the intrinsic hydrophobic property of the membrane. The present study demonstrates a novel approach for the fabrication of a highly hydrophilic PVDF UF membrane via postfabrication tethering of superhydrophilic silica nanoparticles (NPs) to the membrane surface. The pristine PVDF membrane was grafted with poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) by plasma induced graft copolymerization, providing sufficient carboxyl groups as anchor sites for the binding of silica NPs, which were surface-tailored with amine-terminated cationic ligands. The NP binding was achieved through a remarkably simple and effective dip-coating technique in the presence or absence of the N-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-N′-ethylcarbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC)/N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) cross-linking process. The properties of the membrane prepared from the modification without EDC/NHS cross-linking were comparable to those for the membrane prepared with the EDC/NHS cross-linking. Both modifications almost doubled the surface energy of the functionalized membranes, which significantly improved the wettability of the membrane and converted the membrane surface from hydrophobic to highly hydrophilic. The irreversibly bound layer of superhydrophilic silica NPs endowed the membranes with strong antifouling performance as demonstrated by three sequential fouling filtration runs using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a model organic foulant. The results suggest promising applications of the postfabrication surface modification technique in various membrane separation areas. © 2013 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6694-6703
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 11 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-C1-018-02
Acknowledgements: This publication is based on work supported by Award No. KUS-C1-018-02, granted by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). We also acknowledge the postgraduate scholarship program of the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the use of facilities supported by YINQE and NSF MRSEC DMR 1119826.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


Dive into the research topics of 'Highly Hydrophilic Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) Ultrafiltration Membranes via Postfabrication Grafting of Surface-Tailored Silica Nanoparticles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this