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Polymeric Nanopore Membranes for Hydrophobicity-Based Separations by Conformal Initiated Chemical Vapor Deposition

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journal contribution
posted on 09.02.2011, 00:00 by Ayse Asatekin, Karen K. Gleason
High-aspect ratio hydrophobic, cylindrical nanopores having diameters as low as 5 nm are rapidly fabricated using conformal vapor deposition of fluorinated polymeric layers into porous track-etched polycarbonate membranes. The resultant selectivity of these membranes for pairs of small molecules of similar size, but of different hydrophobicity, arises from solute−pore wall interactions emphasized by confinement. Increasing selectivity was observed as pore diameter decreased and as the surface of the pore became more hydrophobic. Cylindrical pores provided higher selectivity than bottleneck-shaped pores having the same minimum diameter. A maximum selectivity of 234 was achieved between mesitylene and phloroglucinol by the best performing membrane. Membranes with small fluorinated pores exhibited an effective cutoff based on the polar surface area of the molecules, with limited correlation with solute size. This technology could lead to a new generation of membrane separations based on specific interactions.