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Modification of Supramolecular Membranes with 3D Hydrophilic Slide-Rings for the Improvement of Antifouling Properties and Effective Separation

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posted on 24.07.2019, 19:35 by Sisi Ma, Ligang Lin, Qi Wang, Yuhui Zhang, Honglei Zhang, Yixin Gao, Lin Xu, Fusheng Pan, Yuzhong Zhang
A three-dimensional (3D) strategy for the fabrication of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVAL) membranes with a dynamic surface was developed based on sliding supramolecular polymer brushes (SSPBs). The SSPBs with a 3D hydrophilic structure were introduced into the alkyne–EVAL membrane matrix via an azide–alkyne click coupling reaction. The self-mobile hydrophilic slide-rings in the SSPB provided a proactive exclusion system. This resulted in reduced direct contact of the membrane surface with multiple pollutants such as bovine serum albumin (BSA) and oil droplets. The EVAL-SSPB membrane demonstrated increased surface hydrophilicity, underwater oleophobicity, and antifouling properties. More importantly, the abundant hydrophilic rings in the membrane matrix result in supramolecular assembly and efficient hydrophilic sliding channels. This resulted in a dramatic increase in the water flux [2000 L/(m2 h)] while retaining a 96% rejection of BSA and oil/water emulsions. The results of the study indicate that three effects of the cyclodextrins rings, i.e., the hydrophilic effect, the exclusion effect, and the sliding effect, enabled the improved membrane performance. The demonstrated 3D fabrication strategy is versatile, facile, and scalable, which allows for its application to various other membranes. The fabricated materials possess excellent permeability and separation efficiencies, which make them attractive candidates for use as separation membranes with novel functions.