Ion transport through laminar graphene membranes

The research article 'Tunable charge/size selective ion sieving with ultrahigh water permeance through laminar graphene membranes' has been published in Elsevier journal Carbon.

Abstract

Graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) membranes have attracted significant attention as a potential technology for energy storage, gas separation, and water purification technologies. However, these membranes have a significant drawback as they became swollen, hence unstable, after exposure to aqueous solutions.

Here, we describe membranes produced from graphene prepared by liquid phase exfoliation, possessing a low oxygen content, unlike the GO/rGO systems, and demonstrate their applicability in ion sieving in aqueous solutions. These low oxygen graphene membranes formed from flakes of varying size are used to determine the effect of flake morphology on ion transport. Interestingly decreasing flake length and thickness leads to an increase in the number and tortuosity of nanochannels between the layers, resulting in a significant reduction of ion transport. The smaller flakes show an increased surface charge, due to the level of defects, which impedes chloride mobility allowing for both physical sieving and charge repulsion.

Moreover, the graphene membranes reported here exhibit excellent Na+ rejection properties (∼97%) with water permeance 10 times higher than those reported for GO membranes, while demonstrating high stability in aqueous solutions with no observed swelling. These materials are therefore extremely promising for future applications in water purification.

Access the complete article on ScienceDirect.