Carbon-doped metal oxide interfacial nanofilms for ultrafast and precise separation of molecules

B Sengupta and QB Dong and R Khadka and DK Behera and RZ Yang and J Liu and J Jiang and P Keblinski and G Belfort and M Yu, SCIENCE, 381, 1098-1104 (2023).

DOI: 10.1126/science.adh2404

Membranes with molecular-sized, high-density nanopores, which are stable under industrially relevant conditions, are needed to decrease energy consumption for separations. Interfacial polymerization has demonstrated its potential for large-scale production of organic membranes, such as polyamide desalination membranes. We report an analogous ultrafast interfacial process to generate inorganic, nanoporous carbon-doped metal oxide (CDTO) nanofilms for precise molecular separation. For a given pore size, these nanofilms have 2 to 10 times higher pore density (assuming the same tortuosity) than reported and commercial organic solvent nanofiltration membranes, yielding ultra-high solvent permeance, even if they are thicker. Owing to exceptional mechanical, chemical, and thermal stabilities, CDTO nanofilms with designable, rigid nanopores exhibited long-term stable and efficient organic separation under harsh conditions.

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