Journal: Nature Communications
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A simple surfactant is the key to producing high-performance polymer-based nanofiltration membranes.
Polymer membranes punctured by nanoscale pores can quickly separate mixtures of molecules, allowing only the smaller molecule in the mixture to pass through the pores. The more uniform the size of the pores, the more precisely the membrane can separate molecules of a closely related size.
Soochow University researchers have shown that a high uniformity of pore sizes can be achieved by adding surfactants to the reaction system used to make the nanofiltration membrane.
Nanofiltration membranes are typically synthesized by dissolving one reactant in water, and the other in an organic solvent. The reactants meet only at their interface, where they form a thin polymer sheet.
Adding the surfactant facilitated greater and faster mixing of the two reactants at their interface, ensuring highly uniform pore size in the resulting nanofiltration membrane.
- Nature Communications 11, 2015 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15771-2