Research ArticleMATERIALS SCIENCE

Etching gas-sieving nanopores in single-layer graphene with an angstrom precision for high-performance gas mixture separation

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Science Advances  25 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaav1851
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav1851

Abstract

One of the bottlenecks in realizing the potential of atom-thick graphene membrane for gas sieving is the difficulty in incorporating nanopores in an otherwise impermeable graphene lattice, with an angstrom precision at a high-enough pore density. We realize this design by developing a synergistic, partially decoupled defect nucleation and pore expansion strategy using O2 plasma and O3 treatment. A high density (ca. 2.1 × 1012 cm−2) of H2-sieving pores was achieved while limiting the percentage of CH4-permeating pores to 13 to 22 parts per million. As a result, a record-high gas mixture separation performance was achieved (H2 permeance, 1340 to 6045 gas permeation units; H2/CH4 separation factor, 15.6 to 25.1; H2/C3H8 separation factor, 38.0 to 57.8). This highly scalable pore etching strategy will accelerate the development of single-layer graphene-based energy-efficient membranes.

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