Visualization of the effect of die shear rate on the outer surface morphology of ultrafiltration membranes by AFM

Tai Shung Chung*, Jian Jun Qin, Alfred Huan, Kee Chua Toh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


We have demonstrated the effect of shear rate on the outer surface morphology of polyethersulfone (PES) hollow fiber ultrafiltration (UF) membranes by an atomic force microscope (AFM). A digital instrument (DI) AFM was used to reveal the surface morphology of hollow fiber membranes prepared with varying shear rates from 1305 to 11,066s-1. A tapping mode was operated for studying the polymeric membranes when AFM was applied to image the surface of a fiber in air. AFM images of the outer surface have revealed that the nodules in the outer skin appeared to be randomly arranged at low shear rates but formed bands that were aligned in the direction of dope extrusion when the shear rate increased. Both nodule sizes in the fiber spinning and transversal directions decreased with increasing shear rate possibly because of chain disentanglement and thermodynamically favored. This result has not been reported so far. The analysis of AFM images showed that the roughness of the outer surface of hollow fiber UF membranes in terms of Rms, Ra and Rz decreased with an increase in shear rate. The pure water flux of the membranes was nearly proportional to the mean roughness and higher mean roughness resulted in lower separation of membranes. AFM data also imply that there was a certain critical value of shear rate around 3585s-1, the roughness decreased significantly with an increase in shear rate below 3585s-1 and almost leveled off or in a much slower pace above this shear rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-266
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 28 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Atomic force microscope
  • Hollow fiber ultrafiltration membranes
  • Orientation
  • Shear rate effect
  • Surface morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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