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Osmotic Transport across Surface Functionalized Carbon Nanotube Membrane

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journal contribution
posted on 12.10.2018, 00:00 by Mahesh Lokesh, Seul Ki Youn, Hyung Gyu Park
Osmosis plays a central role in many chemical separation processes. Among various biological and artificial channels, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) stand out due to their exceptional water transport efficiency and variability of pore-size, down to molecular dimensions, thereby approaching ideal semipermeability. We report osmotically driven water and salt transport across a membrane of vertically aligned CNTs in a titania matrix whose surface is functionalized with a self-assembled monolayer of octadecylphosphonic acid. The increased steric hindrance and hydrophobicity at the pore entrance of CNTs improved salt rejection while maintaining enhanced osmotic water transport, thanks to an atomically smooth surface of the nanotubes. In addition to the experimental demonstration of osmosis, we observed a net negative osmotic water flow at lower salt concentration gradient and non-Fickian behavior of the reverse salt flux. This observation is attributable to the interface-driven fluidic phenomenon known as diffusio-osmosis that drives water flow in the direction opposite to osmotic flow. The ion–CNT interactions are responsible for the simultaneous occurrence of the two osmotic transport mechanisms and the salt-specific osmotic transport characteristics.