Precise nanofiltration in a fouling-resistant self-assembled membrane with water-continuous transport pathways

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  09 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaav9308
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav9308


Self-assembled materials are attractive for next-generation membranes. However, the need to align self-assembled nanostructures (e.g. cylinders, lamellae) and the narrow stability windows for ordered bicontinuous systems present serious challenges. We propose and demonstrate a novel approach that circumvents these challenges by exploiting size-selective transport in the water-continuous medium of a nanostructured polymer templated from a self-assembled lyotropic H1 mesophase. Optimization of the mesophase composition enables high-fidelity retention of the H1 structure on photoinduced cross-linking. The resulting material is a mechanically robust nanostructured polymer possessing internally and externally cross-linked nanofibrils surrounded by a continuous aqueous medium. Fabricated membranes show size selectivity at the 1- to 2-nm length scale and water permeabilities of ~10 liters m−2 hour−1 bar−1 μm. Moreover, the membranes display excellent antimicrobial properties due to the quaternary ammonium groups on the nanofibril surfaces. These results represent a breakthrough for the potential use of polymerized lyotropic mesophase membranes in practical water purification applications.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text