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Molecular Order Determines Gas Transport through Smectic Liquid Crystalline Polymer Membranes with Different Chemical Compositions

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journal contribution
posted on 23.09.2022, 07:11 authored by Joey Kloos, Nico Jansen, Menno Houben, Kitty Nijmeijer, Albert P. H. J. Schenning, Zandrie Borneman
Amorphous polymers are often used for gas separation but have a trade-off between gas permeability and selectivity. Here, the effect of chemical composition and temperature on gas permeability and solubility in well-ordered LC polymer membranes is investigated. Membranes with various compositions of a monomethacrylate LC (M1) with a crown ether functionality to enhance CO2 solubility and a smectic diacrylate (M2) cross-linker were fabricated, while all having the same order (smectic C) and alignment (planar). Single gas sorption and permeation data show for the membranes with 30 wt % M1 a higher CO2 solubility coefficient compared to membranes without M1, which results in a higher CO2 permeability and selectivity. For membranes that contain more than 30 wt % M1 decreasing layer spacings lead to reduced gas solubilities that result in lower gas permeabilities without additional selectivity gain toward CO2. The effect of temperature is demonstrated by comparing single gas sorption and permeation data below and above the Tg of the membranes. The diffusion coefficient increases above the Tg of the membranes with increasing M1 content leading to higher CO2 permeabilities and selectivities. These results show that not only the chemical composition but also the layer spacing of the smectic structures determines the gas separation performance of smectic LC polymer membranes.